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Inspired Attire Encouraged

I received my MOCA West Members Opening invitation toexhibit, a collaboration between designer Rudi Gernreich, model Peggy Moffitt, and photographer William Claxton.
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© William Claxton Photography

I received my MOCA West Members Opening invitation to The Total Look exhibit, a collaboration between designer Rudi Gernreich, model Peggy Moffitt, and photographer William Claxton.

The invitation read: Inspired Attire Encouraged.

I asked my receptionist, Erin Bridges, to be my guest and decided to create a Peggy Moffitt tribute.

I first met Peggy Moffitt on an assignment for Harper's Bazaar. It was in 1966, and it was my very first editorial hair job. I was fresh on the hairdressing scene.

I didn't know who the model would be, and in those days hairdressers did both hair and make-up. Nothing could have matched my excitement, so the night before I ambitiously prepared for anything and anyone. I curled all of my hair-falls and pieces. I cleaned my make-up and case like it was new and I polished everything from my brushes and combs to my bobby pins.

I was on location when the model walked in. It was Peggy Moffit with her flawless bob. She came straight to me and told me very specifically, "I won't need anything. My hair was just cut in London by Vidal Sassoon. And I do my own make-up."

I was exhausted from staying up all night getting ready and elated that I didn't have to do anything. I could hardly suppress my laughter.

"Okay, great," I said, and smiled into Peggy's dead serious eyes. "I'll just keep a watch over you, in case the wind blows while we're outside."

But it was me who was blown away when, an hour later, Peggy walked out with the most inventive, elaborate, stylish make-up I had ever witnessed. She took it to a level of fine art. She had painted white inside her bottom eyelids to make her eyes appear larger, then she'd outlined them with black eyeliner in extreme sharp detail; added false eyelashes, and even spotted a red dot, to recreate new tear ducts extending her eye even further. Her face was powdered with a stark white porcelain foundation. She looked like a real, live Kabuki doll.

Peggy became the icon for the mod fashionistas of the '60s, and still inspires designers and models today. I knew Rudi through the years and also worked for photographer William Claxton, a lovely man who married Peggy Moffitt. It is always thrilling for me to encounter the presence of Miss Moffitt, from fashion and art events to the many times in the past 40 years, just catching William and Peggy strolling on Rodeo Drive or other streets of Beverly Hills.

So back to the MOCA event. First, I went down the block from my salon to Sequels, the best vintage/resale store, to borrow evening attire. Then I had my other salon neighbor, make-up artist Natalie Saraf, copy Peggy's signature eye make-up on Erin. I sealed the look with false black bangs, secured by a vintage scarf wrapped around a French twist I made to hide Erin's long blond hair.

On our way in, I met the gracious MOCA director, Jeffrey Deitch. He told me this show was so difficult to edit with Peggy's collection of over 400 Rudi Gernreich treasures. We pushed through a sardine packed crowd on the first floor to see dressed mannequins and walls intermixed with William Claxton's fashion videos and breathtaking photographs of Peggy modeling in her Martha Graham-style poses.

Rudi designed clothes to move, not hang on hangers, and the collaboration between Rudi, Peggy, William, and Vidal topping it off with his hair creations, truly put the spotlight on this very fact.

"Let's go find Peggy," I said, with crazy excitement. Everyone's jaws dropped and they started taking photos of Erin when we arrived on the top level of the show, just as we were breathless to the vision of this room filled with shocking colors and wild combinations, geometric patterns, of Rudi's dresses... all made with such precision, all detailed with outrageous earrings and incredible shoes and matching stockings, whether leopard print or black and white check.

I spotted Peggy's son, Christopher Claxton, in the crowd. "Hi," he said, and then saw my guest Erin. "Well, hello, Mom!" We laughed.

I said, "Where is your mom?"

We found the Queen's queue to pay our respects. Erin was speechless when she met her.

"What a stunning exhibit, Peggy," I said. "I see my life flash by in this room."

Peggy reminded me that our first shoot was with famed photographer Horvat.

"Your husband [William Claxton who died in 2008] would be so proud of what you all have done here."

She smiled again more seriously. "I miss him."

My hairdresser/photographer pal, Sean James, snapped our photo before Peggy turned to greet other friends and fans.