When I saw the Agent Provocateur “Mazzy” bathing suit above, I did a double take. At first I thought I was looking at another bathing suit, created in 1970.*
The suit I was thinking of was designed by American designer Rudi Gernreich. Gernreich was a noteable and controversial designer during the 1950s to 1970s. He is best known for creating the monokini, a bathing suit that revealed a woman’s breasts. He used plastic often in his designs and played with the notion of unisex.
Below you can see Agent Provocateur’s “Mazzy” bathing suit and Gernreich’s suit from 1970-71. The thick, crisscrossing black lines are nearly identical, and the colors used on AP’s suit harken back to Gernreich’s color palette.
On further inquiry, I realized Agent Provocateur also has a two piece that also borrows heavily from one of Gernreich’s bikinis. I found an extant example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection.
I think the similarities between the shape, lines, and colors are much more than coincidence. The designers of the AP suits borrowed heavily on the historic 1970s suits by Gernreich.
I’m curious, what do you think? Is this homage to Gernreich or fashion design plagiarism?
*Also, I wanted to note that my friend and fellow fashion historian Monica Murgia noticed the similarity before me and blogged about it, but I wanted to share it with you here because this is just too good not to.