Stunning Yves Saint Laurent suit won by The Bowes Museum
Stunning Yves Saint Laurent suit won by The Bowes Museum

Stunning Yves Saint Laurent suit won by The Bowes Museum

Catherine Deneuve suit won at auction to enhance collection.


The Bowes Museum, which hosted the critically acclaimed Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal exhibition in 2015, is delighted to announce it has bought an Yves Saint Laurent suit once owned by Catherine Deneuve to add to its permanent collection. 


The purchase has been made possible through a New Collecting Award grant from Art Fund to build a collection of French haute couture, the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and generous private donations. 


One of Catherine Deneuve’s favourite outfits famously known as ‘Le Smoking’, is based on a man’s tuxedo, encapsulating Yves Saint Laurent’s creative genius and his philosophy about giving women confidence to wear masculine styles. 


The French actress, who had a life long association with the legendary couturier, has sold over 300 outfits at Christie’s Auction House in Paris. The suit, which had a guide price of 1,000 – 2,000 Euros, was successfully bought for 5,625 Euros.


Joanna Hashagen, The Bowes Museum Curator of Fashion and Textiles, said: “We are truly thrilled to have won this four piece ensemble comprising of a jacket with satin lapels and jewelled button, waistcoat, skirt and trousers in black lace with satin trim.   


“It will genuinely complement our existing collection and become the final piece of a capsule French haute couture wardrobe that we believe our founder Joséphine Bowes would have worn if she was alive today.  Like Catherine Deneuve, she was an actress with exquisite taste and timeless elegance.” 


Olivier Flaviano, Director of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, said: “It is wonderful that The Bowes Museum has been able to buy this item. It’s only fitting that an iconic French château style museum should be the new home for such a sophisticated garment.” 


Emma Coleman, Programmes Manager at Art Fund, said: “The Bowes was one of the first organisations to receive a grant through a New Collecting Award with Art Fund. It’s wonderful to see an iconic tuxedo style suit, which changed the history of women’s fashion, join their vibrant collection of French haute couture.


Notes to editors:

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by Tate St Ives in 2018) and a range of digital platforms.Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at

  • The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
  • It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
  • The annual grants budget, currently £724,000, is provided by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding
  • Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 150 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead
  • Visit the website:
  • The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.

Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in. The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods.

  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England. Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.
  • The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,



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