Two of a kind. The tuxedo in my opinion is the closest a man gets to wearing a uniform. Generally it is standard, generic in style, in cut and accessories, yet sexy because the man wears the tuxedo like a uniform, it doesn't wear him. You can be swimming in a sea of these suits and yet everyone wears them differently. That is the beauty of the tuxedo. You become the desirable and coveted item, not the suit itself.
The uniformed tuxedo takes on an entirely different meaning for women who choose this formal way of dress. It is the epitome of sex-appeal. YSL introduced the world to Le Smoking in 1966 when the perception of women wearing pants was still considered eccentric. Ironically enough there is something ultra feminine and potently sensual about a woman choosing to wear the male uniform. Symbolic of confidence and female sexual empowerment, back in the day it was considered scandalous for a woman to wear a man's suit (see Marlene Dietrich), it was a way of pushing necessary boundaries. The suit itself has the potential to simultaneously turn on both men and women. It has become an article of clothing representative of female emancipation. Women have taken possession of man's attire and found freedom in dress, letting go of their fragility and embracing their sexual authoritativeness.
Of course it took the time the world to adjust. Le smoking wasn't accepted by the mass populace until well into the mid 70's. It was even banned from restaurants.
So the next time someone tells you that fashion is all about frivolity, you can bring up the example of Le Smoking and give them a little history lesson on the psychology of dress.
Thank you YSL and Helmut Newton for the fashion leverage. xo -tM
Photography: Vicki King & Helmut Newton