Designers seem to be channeling the spirit of the Le Smoking jacket en masse in Milan this week. With inspirations stemming back to 70s Anjelica Huston and Bianca Jagger to the man who gave the style its namesake; Yves Saint Laurent. However, unbeknownst to most fashionistas and fashion blogs of today who always credit Chevalier Saint Laurent with the popularity of the look, the real originators of Le Smoking were the legendary entertainers of the 40s. Particularly strong and independent women of the 40s sported tuxedo looks. In particular Anna May Wong, the original ‘dragon lady’; Marlene Dietrich, who’s low voice invoked her to sing songs normally reserved for men; and Josephine Baker, who was known to have several affairs with women. These strong women were all breaking the mold of classic womanhood by wearing tuxedos all the while inadvertently pushing womens liberation and equality. From the 40s groundbreakers, to Saint Laurent’s naming and re-establishing of Le Smokings chicness, to its renaissance on Milan’s runways today; the jacket will always be a staple of the elegant strength of the woman. These looks from Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Emilio Pucci all channel the originators of Le Smoking: Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, and Anna May Wong.
London might not offer the most recognizable names in fashion, but nowhere is creativity and variety more on display than in the English capital. A superb day began with an strong showing from Marios Schwab, who gave us delicious English tea party round-neck sheath dresses, with elaborate ruching and pearl details.
The real surprises were the highly-wearable puffy jackets that bloomed out from the waist down. The collection was filled with bright solids, a strong trend for Fall, and had, if not a minimalist, then a quasi-minimalist feel.
On to Roksanda Ilincic, who’s scored political points being a favorite of Michelle Obama. She gave a varied showing with highlights being structured, masculine-feeling coats and raised-shoulder dresses that gave way to very feminine silk gowns with subtle draping in bright colors.
Then a presentation from MariaFrancescaPepe, who focuses on punky goth glamor jewelery, her goal being that the accessories take over the outfit and become the focal point — a selling point that’s worked on everyone from Lady Gaga to Sienna Miller. A couple selections are this blinged-out spike sheer head-covering and these fantastic pins.
Then BodyAMR graced us with a celebration of the tenacity and spirit of the Egyptian people. The look of the woman was uber-luxe. Michelle Pfiefer in Scarface comes to mind. Omanian-born designer Amr offered up fluid, flowing one-pieces and body-con minis that seemed to flout fall’s colder weather.
While London Fashion Week still has a lot of catching up to do where its three bigger siblings (Paris, Milan, New York) are concerned, so long as London keeps presenting such stellar talent, it doesn’t have too far to go.