Helmut Newton’s stunning image of a woman smoking in a Yves Saint Laurent ‘le smoking’ suit in his 1975 photography series signifies the effect of YSL on fashion history. While women were wearing Chanel LBD’s or evening gowns, Yves Saint Laurent was creating the ‘le smoking’ jacket, one of the most controversial fashion creations, as androgyny was virtually unheard of. Often credited with liberating women in their wardrobes, the jacket, which emerged in YSL’s 1966 Pop Art collection, was black, high-waisted and satin, and worn over a white blouse. It soon became a statement piece for the stars, including style icons Catherine Deneuve and Bianca Jagger, and has continued to be included in Yves Saint Laurent’s collections to date, if not in different forms. The signature look has been incorporated into a jumpsuit, dress and trench coat over the years, and has become an integral part of every collection, no matter if Saint Laurent is headed by Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford or, most currently, Stefano Pilati. There may not have been a women’s suit if it wasn’t for ‘le smoking’ jacket, so when it comes to clothing classics, Yves Saint Laurent is always bound to be mentioned.
The Chanel 2.55 handbag is yet to go out of vogue. Ever-stylish, the quilted handbag is on the top of every woman’s wish list, from the day it was created in 1955 (which, incidentally, the bag is named after). One of the reasons the bag is so internationally adored is the way Chanel pieced it together; every piece of fabric that makes the bag has a story behind it, making it almost an autobiography of Chanel’s life. Chanel grew up in a convent which inspired much of the design- for instance; the lining is brown, matching the colour of her convent uniforms and the shoulder strap which was inspired by the caretakers of the convent who wore their keys from their waist, dangling much like the chains of the bag do. The inside zipped compartment was designed for Chanel to hide her love letters from her then lover, while the outside back flap was reserved for extra money. The front lock, named the ‘Mademoiselle lock’ symbolises her unmarried status, and differs to the double CC Chanel logo. To date women all over the world still buy the bag, most commonly the 50th anniversary edition names the Reissue 2.55.
Ray Bans may have begun their sun-shielding life in the US Army Air Corps in 1937, but having gone from fashionable strength to strength, becoming an A-lister and fashionista favourite to this day. Although there are many variations of the Ray Ban, Wayfarers and Aviators are the style must-haves. Wayfarers have been dubbed the best selling sunglasses, which puts them on the list of design greats. The shape of the sunglasses was revolutionary, and took advantage of the then-recent invention of the plastic machine. They hit the height of their recognition in the noughties when celebrities such as Chloë Sevigny and Mary-Kate Oslen embraced the look, whether it was sunny or cloudy. Aviators were names after their tear-dropped shape, and have become iconic since the film Top gun, although they first hit fame in the 1960s. They are now usually adorned by style-lovers and celebrities, and have even recently been worn by Barack Obama on the cover of Ebony magazine.
Louboutin shoes are seen on the most hot-to-trot feet in the world, attracting glamour-pusses and icons like burlesque star Dita Von Teese into the shoes famed for their iconic red sole. Louboutin spent his early teen-hood watching cabaret acts, and instead of fantasising about the girls, simply adored the showgirl’s shoes and how undoubtedly high the stiletto heels would reach. Seeing the heels as the sexiest extension of a woman’s body, he was troubled by a sign in the Museum of Oceanic Art in Paris, which warned women not to scrape their heels on the floor. Infuriated, he set about on a style mission, to get every woman’s manicured toes in some beautifully designed shoes. However, when he sent his heels down the runway- there was something missing. Spotting his colleagues hot red Chanel nail varnish, a style-moment happened, and he added the famous red soles to every shoe he made. Every heel he creates is at least 4 inches high, making every woman feel like a show girl no matter what their job is.
Burberry Trench Coat
Considering Burberry is now one of the most fashionable designer brands, it will probably surprise most people that its original store was opened in the small town of Basingstoke in England, which is incidentally my hometown. Thomas Burberry invented the infamous gabardine fabric for the trench coats worn by British and French soldiers in WW1. It has since progressed to become the uniform of style icons Kate Miss and Alexa Chung after some style alterations- including epaulettes, straps and d-rings. In the 1900s director Roberto Menichetti brought a touch of the 1930s to the trench to revamp the design, but unfortunately this led to copycat designs. With Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca always likely to be popular in stylish film history, the trench is a design classic, and will never fail to appear in fall fashion seasons. -Isabella Stockwell
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