|from this cool site|
I have long adored Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking, and indeed the concept of women in men's suits in general. Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn were great icons for this... the embodiment of something so strong and sexual; yet subtle - its sexuality lies not in what it exposes (buckets of flesh spilling out over and under teeny-tiny clothing) but for what it doesn't expose...and reveals so much of its wearer at the same time.
The sophisticated, self-confident woman cuts a sleek figure amongst the flounces and frills of other women's formal attire, a hint at a sense of the wearer's practicality as well as individuality, perhaps. And indeed, I feel the woman's suit is both daring and conformist; and represents how I feel about Katharine Hepburn (for example) and women who step beyond the boundaries of what and how women should behave, to what she felt was appropriate - at times much more like a man and less like a 'lady' (and all of the rigidly controlled and monitored appropriate behaviours that accompanied this onerous title). Indeed, Katharine seemed to never limit herself by the boundaries ascribed to her gender; stating
"I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex"
The simplicity...my friend pointed out to me that the suit, and particularly, in this wonderful Helmut Newton photograph, is very asexual - I would venture to add that it appears at once erotic and a-sexual, or, 'I am as sexual as I choose to be' and further, 'I define the terms of my own sexuality'. A hint of bi-sexualism, loaded with a cautiousness that one should never presume. As Suzanne Vega sang,
"don't give away the goods too soon is what she might have told me"And Katharine Hepburn. Oh. Katharine Hepburn. She wore men's suits because they were 'comfortable' -inadvertently, (perhaps?) creating a trend of women wearing pants when it was otherwise inappropriate to do so. I don't think she did it to be cutting edge, trend-setting and unique, I think it had more to do with her abject practicality; and I suppose this is part of the beauty of Le Smoking, a suit - so commonplace and practical, yet so taboo and therefore so sexual.
"Being a housewife and a mother is the biggest job in the world, but if it doesn't interest you, don't do it - I would have made a terrible mother"