I’ve been waiting for the perfect excuse to invest in a beautiful tuxedo and have just found it. What to wear to your own book launch might sound like the ultimate in gratuitous self-promotion but it really is my current fashion conundrum. As the author of Style Forever: the grown-up guide to looking fabulous, the pressure is on to look, well, fabulous at upcoming publicity events and book signings. Time to turn to the tuxedo…
The iconic 1975 Helmut Newton photo of Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking, for French Vogue, is one of my favourite fashion frames. The image of an androgynous model in a dimly lit Parisian backstreet captures a moment in the 1970s when Yves Saint Laurent’s revolutionary vision collided with Newton’s powerful photography. First stop, then, on my tuxedo tour is Saint Laurent, the brand currently rocking and rolling its way to stellar heights under the direction of Hedi Slimane. The achingly cool designer may be obsessed with all things 1970s – think snakeprint, suede, Lurex and leather – but the fashion house’s classic shapes remain, like its textured wool-crepe jacket (£1,555, second picture) with satin shawl lapels, available from Saint Laurent and Net-a-Porter. All it wants for is a leopard-print silk neck scarf.
Much as I love Saint Laurent’s heritage, I’m also increasingly drawn to another Parisian label. Pallas is a French atelier specialising in women’s tailoring that was established in 1960 by menswear tailor David Pallas and his designer wife. This family-run business is now in the hands of their 53-year-old son Daniel Pallas and his partner Véronique Bousquet. Having worked behind the scenes for luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Céline and Hardie Amies, the husband and wife team launched an eponymous tuxedo collection in 2012. Using a technique termed “petite couture”, each piece is immaculately handcrafted on a mannequin by a single artisan, creating an exquisite jacket that feels both timeless and modern.
The highlights of Pallas’s spring collection (inspired by nightclubbing in 1970s Paris) include a midnight-blue edge-to-edge Chaos jacket (€1,458) in cotton and silk faille, with contrasting black lapels and matching straight-leg trousers (€945), and Oedipe, the oversized pink wool tuxedo jacket (€1,877) teamed with pink low-waist cigarette pants (€905, first picture).
The latter puts me in mind of Tilda Swinton, resplendent in Haider Ackermann on the red carpet. The Colombian-born designer trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and is another master of the impeccably cut jacket. The cropped nude style (£765, third picture), from MyTheresa makes a fabulous day-to-evening cover-up, worn over a simple black T-shirt and cigarette pants. Ditto a wool/cashmere blazer (£457, fourth picture) from Matchesfashion.com’s new in-house label Raey. Designed by Rachel Proud (formerly of Christopher Kane) it’s not a classic tuxedo per se, but it does have that versatile, go-anywhere appeal that I’m looking for – and for chic wardrobe basics, Raey is definitely a label to watch.
Another cropped style that’s perfect for running around in is Jaeger’s contemporary edge-to-edge jacket (£225, fifth picture), and while I was dashing about last week, a couple of DKNY Urban Essentials tuxedo styles (£335) in Fenwick of Bond Street and a new tuxedo-inspired, navy stretch-wool Savoy jacket (£485, sixth picture) at Joseph caught my eye.
Tempered with a pair of jeans, any one of these timeless tuxedo jackets would be the perfect solution for the grown-up lady author about town. Now all I need is a decent pen…