Susannah Frankel: Ready To Wear

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Dr Livingstone, I presume? Well, they do say the old ones are the best and, truth to tell, the good doctor – and, in this instance, he is, in fact, a she – has never looked so lovely. Of all the summer styles that are as eternally chic as they are climate appropriate, safari is the finest, whether madam is holidaying in Kenya or shopping in Knightsbridge. It should come as no surprise, then, that having perhaps come, in the first place, out of Africa, it was in Paris that it was established as a women's-wear staple.

We have the late Yves Saint Laurent, of course, to thank for that. It was in 1968 that the couturier first sent khaki jackets with patch pockets and matching trousers down his catwalk. The jet-setting likes of Talitha, Catherine, Loulou et al loved it so much that he went on to include a variation on the theme each season throughout his career. Safari suits came in the form of jackets and skirts, dresses and more, and were as lovely in black or French navy, say, as in the original desert-coloured hue.

Like the tuxedo for women, safari has since gone on to achieve classic status, and that means that it is ripe for reinvention by other designer names keen to give it their own, individual stamp of approval. And so Diane von Furstenberg has rarely been averse to designing a safari-style shirt-dress that is rather more crisp and rigorous than the ubiquitous wrap. Jean- Paul Gaultier has often toyed with safari too – this is a man who was long described as Saint Laurent's natural heir and, given his effortless take on quintessentially Parisian style, it's easy to see why. For spring/summer 2008, the line-up is as extensive and diverse as ever. Givenchy's take on safari comes in black. Michael Kors's safari jacket is utterly classic: belted, with neat, capped sleeves. Marc by Marc Jacobs has a suitably long and lean safari trouser suit on offer – it's very Saint Laurent and particularly impressive in mustard yellow.

Trust Christopher Kane, though, to come up with the most idiosyncratic spin of them all. This designer's view of safari is that it is best in chiffon printed to look like snakeskin and paired with skinny snakeskin print jeans. Or, how about a khaki safari shirt – in chiffon again – and high-waisted, mushroom-coloured ra-ra skirt to go with it? Nasty, but nice.

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