In a time not so long ago, the thought of a woman wearing a suit would be unheard of, women wore dresses & men wore suits; period. Flash forward 50 years or so and “society” has switched from Perry Como to MIA. The rules have changed and it is oh so cool to be androgynous in the century where cars were meant to fly (I’m still waiting) and the world was meant to end (twice).
There were a few rebels back in the day, namely Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo that were game enough to go against the status quo; but it wasn’t until the swinging 60s that Saint Laurent brought forth the ‘Le Smoking’ (LS) suit. The LS consisted of a dinner jacket and trousers with a satin side stripe, a ruffled white shirt and a black bow tie.
It was supposed to be an alternative to the LBD; and although feminism was well and truly coming up roses it was still a little risqué to wear trousers in public. The most famous case involved American socialite Nan Kempner. Kempner was turned away from a fancy NY restaurant for wearing a YSL tux and in true ‘up yours’ fashion removed her trousers and waltzed right in (what a bad arse!) It was later said by management that “for formal dining attire trousers were as unsuitable as a bathing suit”. How wrong they were….
The ‘Le Smoking’ became a staple of the brand and a core element to the YSL aesthetic. The term “fashions fade, style is eternal’ coined by Saint Laurent himself was in reference to the everlasting tux which has surpassed what was to be a ‘passing trend’ in its first appearance. I myself am grateful to Monsieur Laurent for being a pioneer of fashion and for the ballsy gals who proved that the first step to being bold, brave and powerful could be as simple as wearing a suit.