Elizabeth Suter: Sharp Lines and Swift Sketches

 8 February – 2 June 2019

Elizabeth Suter (1926–2012) was a well-known illustrator and fashion journalist who for years covered the Paris collections for British magazines and newspapers. From 1953 – 1977 she also inspired designers and illustrators as a teacher and eventual Head of Fashion at St. Martin’s School of Art.

Suter developed a style that was fast and confident, based on a thorough understanding of the human body. Drawn largely from memory (as sketching was prohibited in fashion shows), her illustrations elegantly captured the movement of the catwalk during the 1960s. The selection of Suter’s work shown in this display, including coverage of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent catwalk shows, highlights her distinctive approach.

Suter’s role as mentor to a generation of fashion designers and illustrators highlights the impact of art schools on the design movement. Suter’s St. Martin’s (then based in Soho) proved to be a crucible for exchanging ideas as well as a place in which to have a thoroughly good time. Tom McPhillips’s 1972 film, A Lay in the Dife (also on display), illustrates perfectly the St. Martin’s at which Suter taught in until her retirement in 1977.

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