Before the birth of Yves Saint Laurent’s women in suits look, women at work used to wear a long skirt with a high waist, usually accompanied by a long coat or a fur jacket. This simple feminine look differentiated the dress sense of men and women, they looked and dressed very different until the age of androgynous look which was invented by Saint Laurent with his women in suits look.
In 1966 a leading fashion icon and courtier the Frenchman Yves Saint Laurent made the great invention of the women’s Tuxedo. The three button dinner jacket, worn with a white silk blouse and ‘masculine’ trousers brought about the birth of women dressing smarter and more masculine. Saint Laurent joined forces with German Fashion photographer Helmut Newton to shoot the photograph ‘Le Smoking’.
Not only did it make smoking sexy, it revolutionised the way women dressed. The influences of the photograph have stood the test of time and can still be noticed in the high street today. By breaking the stereotypes of the way women should dress not only did he act as an icon for many feminists but also made an addition to the highly volatile fashion trends that were apparent in 1960s. What better time to bring this daring trend than during the second wave of the feminist movement.
The suited woman look was quickly renamed the ‘power suit’ by many critics and the look quickly spread to women working in Wall Street in New York. Publicised by women like Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger the suit took a whole new turn to the way women dressed both on the catwalk and at work. Twenty years on after the trend was launched, the women’s Tuxedo was renamed by fashion critics as the ‘power suit’. This seen less as a trend and was internalised by many western business women as a way of life and normal dress sense who would of known that the some what controversial photo-shoot of a woman in men’s clothes would change the way women would dress. The look took into its stride a woman’s feminine look yet protected her from the male gaze. Critics may suggest that this idea of the suit providing power to the women is ridiculous, as it suggests that women have to dress like men in order to be in power, however the new trend spread like wild fire in the western world and is still apparent in today’s culture therefore it has surely provided great influence to women’s fashion.
Women in suits are seen in all work-places now and it has taken off as a trent again as a casual dress sense. Michelle Obama the unarguably the most powerful and fashionable women in the world has also taken this women in suits look. Lady Gaga brought back this look in her music video Born This Way. Yes this look may seem like something you would wear on Halloween, but it’s still different, trendy and an off spin of ‘Le smoking’.