Just before the holidays Mr French came home from a business trip, a page of Le Figaro grasped tightly in his hand. I offered him only the briefest of kisses, mostly because he smelled of canned air, but also because I was mad with curiosity. What had he seen in print? Was it the latest dream hotel? Had my blog been “discovered” and I was at last famous (lol)?
Coming back to reality, the article was infinitely more interesting than I had imagined; an entire page dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve and Le Smoking, aka the tuxedo jacket. Mr French recently survived a petit ordeal with me and Le Smoking so he was aware that it is something of an obsession of mine…
The article reminds the reader of how Monsieur Saint Laurent revolutionized the fashion world when he introduced Le Smoking for women in 1966. It features a photo by Helmut Newton of YSL with Madame Deneuve when they posed for a cover of ELLE magazine to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of YSL Haute Couture.
I had been so obsessed with the insanely sexy, subtly elegant jacket that over the last decade that I would secretly pop into the YSL boutique once or twice a year just to try it on. Which was a bit nutty, because I do not have that kind of budget. But the staff never seemed to mind and would agree with me as I’d appreciate the master tailoring, the luxurious wool, the perfect fit. When I was down, or tired, the vision of me in the shop mirror wearing The Jacket would boost my spirits, give me confidence.
And then we were invited to a party in Venice and I thought that at last, I had an excuse for Le Smoking, so I headed to the Place Saint Sulpice to see what was available. Turns out that while I’d been out living my life, YSL had hired a new creative director, Hedi Slimane who had changed the label’s name and the cut of the tuxedo jacket! It was no longer fitted at the waist, the shoulder pads had disappeared and the fabric was just not the same. It looked schlubby on me. I was flabbergasted, distraught and slightly dismayed.
Several weeks later I was in their men’s shop running an errand. As I waited for the clerk to prepare a package, I started complaining to the manager. I was unhappy about the name change, I was upset about Le Smoking. Saint Laurent employees are extremely proud of their brand and Monsieur le manager was no exception. He kindly took the time to explain that Hedi Slimane had not committed a sacrilegious act by offing the Yves from Yves Saint Laurent. Au contraire, he was paying hommage to the legendary designer by using the original name and logo designed for the Haute Couture house before it gained international acclaim.
I was enjoying the conversation. I started asking about Le Smoking. Did monsieur know of anyone specializing in the resale of vintage YSL? Non, madame. Was there any chance an older model could be found abandoned in some stockroom in Paris? Je suis désolé Madame. Perhaps their China store would have it? Maybe the foreign addresses get the older stock?
Oh, does Madame travel? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, she does. Which is when the manager told me about a Saint Laurent outlet in the UK and another in Italy. Oh, and by the way, he had shipped off the very last of anything with a YSL label their way just last week. Hopeful excitement bubbled up through me, as a goofy grin spread across my face.
The next day I called the Italy store. Not only did they have the jacket in my size, but the price had just been marked down an additional 40% off the 40% of the 40% discount, so I could afford it. It was time to ‘fess up to Mr French before hitting the SEND button. “You’re nuts,” he stated in utter dismay. “You can’t be sure it will fit and you have no idea what it looks like on you.” Which is when I had to come clean about those quirky little visits of mine. Fortunately, he is La Fashionista’s dad, so he has had enough fashion adventures that he didn’t suggest a psychiatric review. At least not immediately.
Then, like magic, several days later Le Smoking arrived chez moi and it is perfect.
As a side note, Le Smoking is very in this fall, but there is no reason it should be signed YSL. I’ve seen some gorgeous ones at every price point, from Zara to Zadig & Voltaire. Looks great worn with jeans and a white tank top!