Monika Tilley, a designer of racy swimsuits that glistened from the covers of Sports activities Illustrated journal on fashions like Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs and a pioneer of activewear and loungewear, died on Dec. 23 in Manhattan. She was 86.
Her daughter, Mona Tilley, introduced the demise in January. She mentioned her mom died in a hospital after having a number of strokes.
Ms. Tilley was not a reputation designer like Invoice Blass or Calvin Klein; she was an business expertise identified for her work for Anne Cole, Anne Klein, White Stag and different corporations, designing what would turn into a uniquely American type of dressing. She created a line for Caitlyn Jenner when she was a monitor star within the Nineteen Seventies, and collaborated with Ms. Brinkley on a line of swimwear in 1984. For the Winter Olympic Video games in 1980 and 1984, she designed the parade uniforms for the American groups.
With an athletic construct — she was an skilled skier — and a deep, gravelly voice, the Austrian-born Ms. Tilley was an imposing and good-looking determine. “However she had a sparkle; you by no means knew if she was making a bit enjoyable,” mentioned Jule Campbell, the longtime editor of Sports activities Illustrated’s swimwear points, who put a lot of Ms. Tilley’s fits on her covers. “Her swimwear designs have been provocative for his or her time.”
Together with Norma Kamali, who designed the red one-piece made memorable by Farrah Fawcett, Ms. Tilley was emblematic of the “sexification of swimwear within the Nineteen Seventies,” mentioned Eric Wilson, a veteran vogue reporter.
Ms. Tilley and Ms. Kamali “mixed a way of athleticism with an open embrace of intercourse attraction in a approach that will affect mainstream swimwear kinds excess of Rudi Gernreich did a decade earlier, when he shocked the style world with the breast-revealing monokini,” Mr. Wilson mentioned. “That was only a blip of immodesty in comparison with the affect of Monika’s fishnet swimsuits — that left little to the creativeness a couple of lady’s anatomy — on loosening client tastes and making the stuff of schoolboy fantasies and dorm-room posters for many years.”
The nipple-baring white mesh swimsuit Mr. Wilson referred to, worn by Ms. Tiegs within the 1978 problem, was maybe essentially the most well-known Sports activities Illustrated swimsuit picture of all time, mentioned Terry McDonell, editor of Sports activities Illustrated from 2002 to 2012. “Each swimsuit problem drew threats of cancellation and howls of objection — first from moralists after which from feminists — and this picture was supercharged in that sense,” Mr. McDonell mentioned.
It’s now in the permanent collection of the Costume Institute on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork.
Ms. Tilley typically added saucy touches to her bathing fits, just like the bits of lace on one other white one-piece swimsuit that Ms. Tiegs wore for a Sports activities Illustrated cowl in 1983, made largely see-through by a dunking within the waterfall behind her.
“She was Viennese, in any case,” mentioned the British designer Patricia Underwood, a longtime pal of Ms. Tilley’s. “In Austria they’re excellent at fur coats, loden and lingerie.”
Monika Theresia Nowotny was born on July 25, 1934, in Vienna. Her father, Franz Nowotny, labored within the division of agriculture; her mom, Margarete (Kinateder) Nowotny, taught English and bodily schooling.
Monika earned a grasp’s diploma from the Vienna Academy of Tremendous arts, an schooling her father allowed her to pursue provided that he might examine in along with her academics each day. (He didn’t imagine artwork was a viable profession path.)
She and Merten Arthur Tilley, an American she met when he was finding out enterprise in Vienna, married on the Hofburg Palais there in 1957, after which they settled in Forest Hills, Queens.
At first Ms. Tilley labored as an illustrator at Harper’s Bazaar. She was quickly employed as a designer of youngsters’s put on at Anne Cole. She would go on to design swimwear, sportswear and loungewear at Anne Klein and different corporations.
Interviewed by The New York Times in 1964, Ms. Tilley, on the time a 29-year-old skiwear designer for White Stag, was requested to foretell which seems to be at Innsbruck, Austria, the place the Olympic Video games have been held that 12 months, would turn into traits. She was bullish on pompom hats and stretch pants.
In 1976, The Times noted: “Designing sportswear is Miss Tilley’s life work, and he or she participates in lots of the sports activities for which she designs garments. The tennis growth has provoked plenty of crimes within the title of vogue, and her intention is to return the fundamental magnificence to the sport, utilizing fashionable materials.”
Ms. Tilley was additionally, because the designer Stan Herman mentioned, “a power in loungewear,” a class newly minted within the Nineteen Seventies for girls who needed to look sharp at work however really feel snug after they acquired residence. It marked the top of the housedress period, as Mr. Herman, additionally a power in that style, identified.
“Liz Claiborne was going to decorate the brand new lady at work, and we have been going to decorate her at residence,” he mentioned. “Monika did a really sporty type of loungewear: plenty of notched collars and housecoats that regarded like males’s shirts.”
Within the late Eighties, Ms. Tilley’s signature line of loungewear for Vassarette featured ankle-length sweaters in daring stripes worn over monochromatic tops and leggings, kinds that will not be misplaced at this time.
Mr. Herman recalled that Ms. Tilley was as soon as memorialized in a window at Lord & Taylor, in a scene that includes a Monika Tilley model — her personal doppelgänger — sketching at a desk and searching very official.
Along with her daughter, Ms. Tilley is survived by her son, Martin, and her brother, Thomas Nowotny. Her marriage to Mr. Tilley resulted in divorce.
Ms. Tilley was a longtime board member of the Council of Vogue Designers of America, the commerce group began in 1962 to advertise American vogue. She based the CFDA Scholarship Program in 1996 and remained carefully concerned in its growth.
“She was an unsung hero” within the group, mentioned Lisa Smilor, the council’s govt vice chairman. “The multitude of design college students that the CFDA has awarded scholarships to could not know her title or legacy. However, she had a optimistic affect on their futures.”