In the early 20th century it was Coco Chanel that famously pioneered menswear for women, but it was Yves Saint Laurent who transformed the tuxedo into a classic eveningwear alternative for ladies. Influenced by 1930’s screen sirens Marlene Dietrech and Greta Garbo, in 1966 Saint Laurent created the first women’s tuxedo, christening the now legendary garment 'Le Smoking'.
As an aficionado on all things androgynous, we knew that Sophia of style blog Girl in Menswear, would be the perfect lady to explore the history of the tuxedo and discover what inspired us girls to swap frocks for suits. Here's how the tux became a party icon.
Le Smoking was revolutionary and risqué in a whole new way – Nan Kemper was famously turned away from Le Cote Basque in New York for wearing one, to which she removed her trousers and sauntered into the restaurant in her jacket alone.
Le Smoking had a snowball affect; in the 1960s French Vogue covered the ensemble extensively, recommending it be styled with big bouffant locks, whilst Helmut Newton captured his androgynous models on dimly lit Parisian streets with slicked back hair and mannish poses. Le Smoking was cropping up in varying guises throughout the 1970s, spearheaded by the likes of Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Charlotte Rampling and Cathereine Deneuve who described it as being both “virile and feminine at the same time”.
Gender-bending dressing at its best, today’s fashion-forward folk continue to rock the tuxedo in its varying guises, with the likes of Lily Collins, Cara Delevingne, Alexa Chung, Kate Moss and Rihanna all recently wearing one.
Guaranteed to raise an eyebrow or two, the tuxedo is the ideal look for women looking to channel their inner-femme fatale.
Effortlessly chic, the tux will be my go-to look for party-season, as Yves Saint Laurent famously wrote, "For a woman, le smoking is an indispensable garment with which she finds herself continually in fashion, because it is about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever".
Join us on the blog next week, when Sophia will be trialling our very own Angelina tuxedo.