Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking Tuxedo is one of the most enduring and powerful fashion creations of the last century, and in the 21st century it continues to inspire.
For the January fashion story "Best friends and lookin' good", the classic Saint Laurent Smoking suit provided the inspiration for photographer Jam and myself. After having attended a retrospective exhibition at the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, entitled Smoking Forver, of the designer's greatest hits of his innovative creation, we were inspired to shoot a story together based on the iconic piece, and inspired by the graceful poses of the mannequins on which the designs were shown. Every season, designers pay homage to what was one of the most controversial designs when it was debuted in the Summer of 1966 as part of Saint Laurent's A/W 66/67 Haute Couture collection. We wanted to shoot the story as soon as possible and as luck would have it there were plenty of examples to be found in the international collections. In the end, we didn't shoot the story until over a year later but, testament to the enduring appeal of Le Smoking, an abundance of versions regularly appear season after season.
Left to right: SS07, AW05, SS06
When the first YSL examples appeared in 1966 as part of Saint laurent's 'Pop Art' collection, in the shape of a black jacket and trousers in grain de poudre with four button down pockets, and a straight cut, high-waisted satin version over a white organdy blouse, they were a controversial alternative to the classic little black dress or evening gown. Instantly adored by a chic collective of style icons including Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux, Francoise Hardy, Liza Minelli, LouLou de la Falaise, Lauren Bacall and Bianca Jagger, over the next 30 years Saint Laurent reinvented his signature silhouette in hundreds of new and different guises from dress and short versions to jumpsuits and trenches.
Today all Saint Laurent's successors from Alber Elbaz to Tom Ford and the current YSL designer, Stefano Pilati, all ensure that Le Smoking is an inherent feature in every YSL collection. Accompanying 3 unseen exclusive images that weren't included in the January issue, here is a brief visual history of Le Smoking's highlights from 1966 to the present day.
friends and lookin' good photographs by Jam