Pantsuit

Design House: Yves Saint Laurent, Paris (French, founded 1961)

Designer: Yves Saint Laurent (French (born Algeria) Oran 1936–2008 Paris)

Secondary Line: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (French, founded 1966)

Date: spring/summer 1970

Culture: French

Medium: cotton

Credit Line: Gift of Barbara and Gregory Reynolds, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.598.96a–c

Description

By 1970, with the acceptance of trouser suits, the Western woman's silhouette accommodated bifurcation for the first time. Yves Saint Laurent, a designer extremely sensitive to social trends, responded to the May student uprisings in 1968 by creating a line of women's tailored trouser suits. Based on the "African" theme, he created a "Safari" suit for his spring/summer 1968 collection, transforming the functional hunting outfit into townwear for women. Two years earlier, Saint Laurent had introduced his "City" trouser suit, which was intended to play the same role as a man's suit. Although trousers had been acceptable as an element of Orientalizing ensembles, for sport, as loungewear, and as an expression of iconoclasm by celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Katharine Hepburn, they had never been acceptable townwear for a fashionable woman. This radical shift is commensurate with the remarkable ascent of women in society during the 1970s.

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