If there were a list of “need to have” items in every woman’s wardrobe, Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking would be at the top. As the master of French elegance himself proclaimed “For a woman, Le Smoking is an indispensable garment with which she’ll always be in fashion, because it’s all about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever.” Le Smoking innovated by adding an androgynous, minimalist, un je ne sais quoi (a certain something) to womens’ fashion, paving the way for 80s’ power suits. YSL’s former partner Pierre Bergé once said “I like Le Smoking, because that was the moment when Yves empowered women.”
At his August, 1966 runway show, the late Monsieur Saint Laurent blew away all preconceived fashion norms by introducing Le Smoking, the first tuxedo designed exclusively for women. At a time when “second-wave feminism” had just started, the female suit was a controversial alternative to the LBD. A single or double-breasted jacket, with shiny satin or silk lapel. The pants are in the same fabric as the jacket and the shirt is in muslin: it brings the trouser suit a resolutely feminine supple and refinement style. Instead of the bow tie, Saint Laurent appends a soft silk ribbon. The frill replaces the collar of men shirts.