Inspiration - Forty Years of Designer Fashion

Man’s suit, blouson-style jacket and trousers, cotton, Yves St Laurent, Rive Gauche label, Paris, about 1979-81

Ribbed cotton polo-necked sweater, 2006

Leather boots, 2006

Accession number WAG1994.90.8

Suit, sweater, spectacles, Yves St Laurent

One could argue that, over the past 40 years, the French designer Yves St Laurent invented modern fashion as we know it. He is responsible for the design of many standard forms of fashionable dress that we now take for granted, including trouser and tuxedo suits for women.

Like the British designer Bill Gibb, St Laurent took inspiration for some of his collections from other world cultures and sometimes from Western popular culture and art.

The safari suit, first introduced into mainstream clothing by St Laurent in 1968, is one of his innovations that became a fashion classic. This example has a short, blouson-style jacket, popular for both men and women during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

St Laurent’s earlier, original version had a longer, belted jacket, influenced by the real safari-wear of big game hunters in Africa during the 1920s and 30s.

St Laurent’s chain of 'Rive Gauche' boutiques, selling his ready-to-wear lines,  first opened in 1966.

Gift of Mr Christopher Cook, 1994.