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26-09-2005
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0000 Yves Saint Laurent: Still 'Smoking' After All These Years Exhibit
history of the smoking and interview with ysl...

Published: Monday, September 26, 2005

Yves Saint Laurent: Still 'Smoking' After All These Years[
By Robert Murphy


PARIS — Yves Saint Laurent, his French bulldog, Moujik IV, puttering at his feet, thumbs through a rack of his celebrated smoking suits.
... "This is the first — 1966 — my first smoking. It's my favorite, a beloved child."
Among his many influential creations — the safari suits, the transparent blouses, the tunics, the brilliant, art-inspired gowns — "le smoking," as Saint Laurent's softened version of the masculine tuxedo became known by such stylish adepts as Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve and Nan Kempner, is one of the celebrated couturier's most recognizable signatures.
Now it is the subject of an exhibit, "Smoking Forever," which will open at the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Foundation on Oct. 5 and run until April 23.
It is the second of the foundation's shows to examine the designer's proclivities and influential design vocabulary; the first was an exhibit devoted to Saint Laurent and art. The latest exhibition will feature some 50 smoking suits, presented in a chessboard-like arrangement, with about 30 original sketches.
But what may not be immediately apparent to the show's visitors is the smoking's place in the larger scheme of social change in the turbulent Sixties.
As a statement, it became the outfit for women who were as strong as men, and were out to prove it.
"It made women more powerful — in their conquest," said Saint Laurent.
So controversial was it that in the Sixties, the manager at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan refused to serve women who wore "le smoking."

Perhaps the smoking's most infamous incident was when the manager at another fashionable Manhattan restaurant turned Kempner away because she was in a YSL smoking. The socialite then removed her "slacks" and transformed her jacket into a makeshift minidress.

Pausing, he adds, "...I thought, the smoking was more modern than an evening gown. It played with a certain ambiguity."
...
He says the idea to put women in tuxedos came to him simply.
"I was at a soiree one evening, looking around, and I saw that all of the men were very handsome in their tuxedos, and that it was an outfit that flatters everyone," says Saint Laurent. "Since I'd put women in trouser suits, it seemed natural to do a smoking suit.
"What I would have loved to have done with the jean, I achieved with the smoking suit. That's to say, I created something that looked equally chic on men and women."

Soon the smoking took on a life of its own, becoming a recurring theme in Saint Laurent's repertoire. It went through many evolutions and versions.
"It changed over the years," he says. "The smoking existed with skirts, with Bermudas, with trousers. There were smoking coats and a smoking dress in muslin with a smoking collar and cuffs.
"It's part of the house's legends," he continues. "It's something very personal for me. It's one of the things I did best. Because it was always a success and I never had difficulty getting a smoking right."
Yet Saint Laurent says there are "secrets" to getting it right, including the magical "touch of the iron" involved in the positioning of the collar and sleeves.
"It's something that is not easy to do," he says. "It requires great technical skill."
Recently, Saint Laurent says, he feels good, his physical health improved — though he still suffers from a shoulder injury that keeps him from sketching — and his disposition brighter.
"Thank God I no longer think up new ideas for dresses," he quips. "It would be too much to handle."
He also is happier with the direction of YSL Rive Gauche since Tom Ford's departure. He said YSL designer Stefano Pilati consults the archives on a regular basis.
"Some of what he does is good," says Saint Laurent of Pilati. "Some of it is not so good."

...
"I read often, but I also get bored," he continues. "It's because I miss it, but I think I would be incapable of starting up again, because I don't like what fashion has become. Times have changed. Women have changed.
"But when I look at the magazines, what I see is so scary that I don't regret having retired," he adds. "Chic is a mélange of the personality of the woman and the clothes that she wears."



in memorium...
excerpts from wwd.com

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26-09-2005
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sounds good, thanks softgrey - would love to go but I suspect I won't be able to.....

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26-09-2005
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Fantastic article, kept me glued to the screen.

Also, I knew that Yves Saint Laurent disapproved of Ford's work, but to see him say that Pilati's work is 'not so good' in places. Erm, I sure as hell think he's doing a grand job. Times change *sigh*

Thanks for posting!

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26-09-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey

Perhaps the smoking's most infamous incident was when the manager at another fashionable Manhattan restaurant turned Kempner away because she was in a YSL smoking. The socialite then removed her "slacks" and transformed her jacket into a makeshift minidress.
nan kempner was a daring woman

thanks softgrey

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26-09-2005
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you are all welcome...


victim...
i was amused by what ysl said about pilati...
but he's not wrong...it's not ALL genius...
but it usually isn't ALL genius...
it's still pretty damn good...imo...


and i do agree dosV...that was pretty gutsy thing for nan kempner to do...


how can i help but love the man who brought androgyny to the mainstream...
among other things...

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26-09-2005
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I have a pack of YSL menthol cigarettes, maybe the title is quite literal!

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26-09-2005
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i used to smoke those in college...
most elegant package design on cigarettes ever...

also one of the most disgusting tasting cigarettes...

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26-09-2005
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great article
thanks for bringing it here softgrey

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26-09-2005
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mon plaisur...

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26-09-2005
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very interesting!! thanks for posting this.

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26-09-2005
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As much as I respect Saint Laurent for the things he invented in fashion, I have to admit though that some of his late Smokings (as seen on the finale couture défilée) look terribly out of proportion to me... by far too 80ies for my liking... I generally liked the ones from Helmut Lang and Hedi Slimane for women much better than his, they´re much softer built than his, especially the shoulders...

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but during the 80's...it really looked very cool and modern...

i agree that it doesn't work now...
but if you flip through a vogue or elle from the 80's...
ysl is like a GOD...
with miyake running a close second...

:p

*this is also related to the women's movement and the need for women to look and feel powerful as they entered the workforce and tried to compete with men...

now that they have established themselves more...
they can soften up the image a bit more as well...
it's all part of the natural evolution of things...


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Last edited by softgrey; 26-09-2005 at 04:50 PM.
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You are definitely right about that softie... The social circumstances were different, thus the image of women´s clothes had to be "stronger", probably more masculine to represent force... It´s definitely interesting how Saint Laurent´s designs represented that time, but still I thought that he lost the ability to adapt to the zeitgeist of the 90ies, until he finally retired in 2002... The dresses were still fabulous, yet he missed to change proportions of the suit - as you said, womenswear became softer, yet some of the late YSL couture stayed stiff and heavy...

But you know, I think that´s what utterly separated Saint Laurent from, say, Karl Lagerfeld; whereas he stayed true to his identity, KL was always about adapting to what was in the air (which he is obviously very good at)... I really don´t know what Lagerfeld stands for and what he probably pushed forward in fashion, but in case of Saint Laurent, you probably can´t stop to name what he invented.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
But you know, I think that´s what utterly separated Saint Laurent from, say, Karl Lagerfeld; whereas he stayed true to his identity, KL was always about adapting to what was in the air (which he is obviously very good at)... I really don´t know what Lagerfeld stands for and what he probably pushed forward in fashion, but in case of Saint Laurent, you probably can´t stop to name what he invented.
OT: I was looking at a book of Karl Lagerfeld dresses from the 80s t'other day and they were all floaty green flower-printed chiffron etc...

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26-09-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricotineacetat
I thought that he lost the ability to adapt to the zeitgeist of the 90ies, until he finally retired in 2002... The dresses were still fabulous, yet he missed to change proportions of the suit - as you said, womenswear became softer, yet some of the late YSL couture stayed stiff and heavy...

But you know, I think that´s what utterly separated Saint Laurent from, say, Karl Lagerfeld; whereas he stayed true to his identity, KL was always about adapting to what was in the air (which he is obviously very good at)... I really don´t know what Lagerfeld stands for and what he probably pushed forward in fashion, but in case of Saint Laurent, you probably can´t stop to name what he invented.
yes...he definitely started off his career with a bang...
and i would say that, in terms of widespread recognition...
he peaked in the 80's...the ERA OF EXCESS...
those huge hot pink satin bows on a long blk evening gown...
mmmmm...gorgeous!!...

he defined glamour and chic......

honestly...
karl lagerfeld scares me a little bit...
there is something quite sinister in his appearance...
...

so i try not to think of him at all......


just the way every man now wears a hedi slimane suit...
back in the 70's...every cool guy wore ysl...
*remember that hedi was doing ysl menswear before dior...
and elbaz then did ysl rtw...

i think yves was waiting to retire until he found his successors...
even though it didn't quite work out as planned...

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