VINTAGE FASHION

THE BLAZER

Posted on November 17 2020

Written by Allison Schaum

What has made the blazer a wardrobe staple from the 60s until today? Perhaps it is as Yves Saint
Laurent posits: “The androgynous woman, the equal of a man through her clothes, upends the
outdated image of classical femininity.” Beyond these words, however, are the real women who
exemplify Saint Laurent’s vision, and in turn praise Saint Laurent for their ability to do so.
Who could forget Socialite Nan Kempner being turned away from La Côte Basque for wearing
trousers and subsequently removing them in order to dine in an early version of Yves Saint
Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo as a dress? In 1972, Kempner told W omen’s Wear Daily t hat YSL
was her favorite designer because he “understood her body,” and she felt other clothes
overpowered her small frame.
Betty Catroux is eternally captivating in her androgyny, pairing her blonde locks with black suits
for decades. Sometimes called Saint Laurent’s double, Catroux said of her lifelong friend, “He
liberated women. It was a liberation that didn’t come just from clothes; there was a mindset.”
Another one of Saint Laurent’s muses Loulou de la Falaise dressed in stark contrast to Catroux
with playful, flamboyant fashion. Still, she equally embodied the Saint Laurent woman—perhaps
because this definition was not stagnant—and even collaborated with him on his collections,
including possibly his most notable 1976 Ballet Russes collection.
Friend and client Paloma Picasso wore a white YSL Spencer jacket on her wedding day, and
said, “his work gives women elegance and dash. He put trousers into a woman’s wardrobe and
made our lives easier.” Similarly, Bianca Jagger went bare beneath a white L e Smoking f or her
wedding. Her thoughts echo Kempner; she feels “ no one understood women's bodies and how to
make clothes in the same way.”
Ultimately, Yves Saint Laurent did more than simply give women permission to wear suits; he
championed it. Blazers specifically co-opt the masculine in chic, sophisticated, and provocative
ways. Just this October, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin sparked controversy and
conversation over her choice to go bare beneath her blazer. Reminiscent of Jagger’s nuptial
styling, Marin’s moment is merely an extension of Monsieur Saint Laurent’s groundbreaking
vision of women in menswear—one so modern in its origin that it has never gone out of style.

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