“Le Smoking” Suit

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Watching from the front row, the fashion editors attending Yves St Laurent’s “Pop Art” collection in August 1966 weren’t overtly enamored with what they saw.

The slim-line fur coats and dresses inspired by the contemporaneous art of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol drew the most attention with a lukewarm response. Fast-forward 45 years, and it’s clear that what was actually unveiled that day at 5 Avenue Marceau, Paris was one of the most influential and iconic designs in 20th century fashion history.

We’re talking about Le Smoking, the first tuxedo tailored for women which was debuted by Saint Laurent  in 1966 – it became an instant classic for women who wanted to appear equal parts glamorous and strong. Entering the cultural consciousness at a time when many second-wave feminists avoided discussing fashion directly, it radicalised eveningwear and irrevocably transformed the way women dressed. Made iconic by famous devotees like Nan Kempner, Betty Catroux and Bianca Jagger, the look told the world that if women are ever going to wear the trousers, they should be able to wear them to their wedding day and Studio 54 alike.

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