Inspiration, Forty Years of Designer Fashion

(Not currently on display)

The Walker Art Gallery's collection of costume includes many examples of designer wear from the past hundred years. The examples displayed here are drawn from the last forty years, a period that has seen enormous changes in what we consider to be fashionable.

Designers, whether independent and small-scale or as part of a large multi-national brand, have had a huge impact upon fashion over this period. Most designers do not operate in a vacuum but actively seek out inspiration for their work from lots of different sources. Some, like Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Gibb, and especially Vivienne Westwood, looked to the past and to non-Western cultures for creative ideas. Others, like André Courrèges, looked to the future as they imagined it to be. Designers like Jean Muir appear to have had no directly-traceable influences, and were inspired by the human body alone to create graceful and elegant garments.

More recently, brand names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture and Maharishi have taken a particular lifestyle or contemporary issue, like environmental change, as inspiration for their designs. The earliest garment shown here is the Courrèges coat of 1966.