It was meant to make an impervious stamp in the history of the luxury fashion industry. It still is.
When Yves Saint Laurent introduced Le Smoking which featured a black tailored tuxedo blazer worn with a white ruffled shirt and trousers as a part of women’s eveningwear back in the mid-1960s, the divisions of opinion among fashion critics were palpable and understandably so given that it was controversial for women to even be spotted wearing trousers in public during that time.
The attitude toward the “androgynous” tuxedo only started shifting later on after style influencers such as Catherine Deneuve, Lauren Bacall and Bianca Jagger adopted the look, not forgetting the series of photographs by Helmut Newton that ran in French Vogue.
It radiated a power surge that carries on to be timeless until today. “I wanted women to have the same basic wardrobe as a man. Blazer, trousers and suit – they’re so functional. I believed women wanted this and was right,” said Yves Saint Laurent in an interview. Le Smoking continued to be a key component of the designer’s collections until his retirement in 2002.
Since Anthony Vaccarello started taking charge of the creative team, he has constantly put his own spin on Le Smoking in various less traditional but equally confident reinterpretations. “I really wanted to pay a homage to Le Smoking and the tuxedo. To say: this is the house of the tuxedo if you need a tuxedo you have to come to Saint Laurent because otherwise, it’s like a fake tuxedo,” said Vaccarello after his Spring/Summer 2020 presentation.
If Vaccarello is renowned for merely one trait, it is most certainly his ability to imbue his sexually high-octane Saint Laurent collections while respecting Saint Laurent’s signatures – as it is the case with his men’s offerings. At his first menswear show in New York in 2016, Vaccarello displayed a spectacular turn of events where women’s clothes were tailored to fit men. Fun fact: it took him two years to feel confident enough showed his first full men’s collection at Saint Laurent.
Vaccarello brought Yves Saint Laurent’s wardrobe back to life with unforgettable pieces such as slim-fit suits, high- waist trousers and loose tucked-in shirts shrewdly paired with skinny jeans to emphasise the contemporary yet nostalgic vibe. Predominantly black, leather and heavily sequined jackets, as well as a combination of sheer shirts with lightweight scarves bestowing a touch of rock ’n’ roll sophistication. Accompanied by footwear ranging from boots to Cuban heels to scuffed white sneakers, the looks denoted the versatility of Vaccarello’s creations, with the collection as whole nodding to the past with a look to the future, suggesting that the creative director is game for progression.
Whatever materials and whatever form the Le Smoking has evolved into throughout the years, it remains identifiably Saint Laurent, in the same vein as the brand’s most classic and coveted jackets boast their smooth satin surface, silk lapels and, immaculate shoulder design and sharp cut. Looking for an iconic yet modern suit to add to your wardrobe?