There are certain groundbreaking moments and pieces of clothing that change the history of fashion. The Chanel Tweed Suit. Christian Dior’s Petticoats. Louis Vuitton’s original logo pattern, the Manolo Blahnik BB Pump. etc. etc. etc.
In that mix of the greats belongs the Yves Saint Laurent “Le Smoking” Tuxedo. Though a Chanel suit would be something great to own, it would look insane on my 29 year old self. The Dior Petticoat, though perfect, would be a bit strange in 2014. And I have never been fond of the LV logo, though I can respect its significance. The “Le Smoking” Tuxedo is something that I would wear yesterday, today and tomorrow. When i’m 30, 50, 70 and what I would wear in my casket. If you had one, wouldn’t you? Being buried in YSL would be pretty damn chic.
Over the weekend I went and saw “Yves Saint Laurent”, the film by Jalil Lespert. It wasn’t the most groundbreaking movie of all time, but some of the runway scenes almost brought tears to my eyes. The workmanship and genius that goes into his looks manifests this feeling of effervescence and joy. Yes, it’s just a movie and not Yves himself, but being familiar with his work, and seeing the replicas, and I would assume actual pieces from the 60’s and 70’s, was truly enjoyable.
"Le Smoking" Tuxedo was created in 1966 and exploded. Similar looks were being worn by Marlene Dietrich years earlier, but the world wasn’t ready. With the movement of women’s liberation in the late 60’s, this outfit was perfectly timed and necessary. Women wanted to challenge the norm by wearing masculine looks and *gasp* PANTS! Then you had Saint Laurent’s muse Betty Catroux wearing this impeccable slim menswear tuxedo jacket with absolutely nothing underneath (PANTS AND CLEAVAGE OH MY GOD) - therein taking something already edgy for its time and completely blowing people’s minds. Then Bianca Jagger wore a white version as her "wedding dress" with nothing underneath. The list of celebrity devotion goes on.
One of my favorite Helmut Newton photos depends on the masculinity of this jacket, shot in 1975 - seen below.
Catherine Denueve said it best,
“The thing about a tuxedo is that it is virile and feminine at the same time. It really does make you feel different as a woman, it changes the gestures.”
Though the tuxedo has been re imagined and remade several times over the years and worn by every celebrity with the faintest interest in fashion, but can you imagine owning one from the 70’s? So if you ever see’s this tux in a vintage shop drop everything and buy it. You will have captured moment in time, a fashion milestone, a declaration of women’s liberation, and above all - own a hot-ass outfit.
Helmut Newton, 1975:
My photo from the movie theater:
Yves Saint Laurent & Betty Catroux:
Yves Saint Laurent dressing Catherine Denueve in “Le Smoking”:
Mick & Bianca Jagger’s wedding day, Bianca in “Le Smoking”:
Current designer Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent - pulling from the 1966 inspiration with “Le Smoking” Tuxedo:
Kate Moss, recent editorial dressed in “Le Smoking” jacket: