The heiress Nan Kempner arrived in a tuxedo to a dinner in a restaurant in Manhattan. When she was informed that women were not allowed sit at the table in pants, she took them off, remaining only in her jacket. For the entire duration of her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton always wore trouser suits. When Saint Laurent died in 2008, the Financial Times cited Clinton as an example of the change he brought about in working women’s lives. Women’s freedom first meant taking back possession of their bodies. Moving at their own pace, being aware of their own physical presence. Freedom is attitude, being free today does not mean being able to do or say what you want – it means being able to express a personality. In a media-fed and western civilization, freedom is available to all: deciding to be free is a question of courage.
Today, like before, the mini dresses, the shorts and the black leather of Saint Laurent gave women the freedom to decide how and whether or not to show their bodies. His men’s blazers and trouser suits continue to encourage women to claim the same power as men, starting with their femininity, without being afraid to use it, to overturn it. The master perfumer Anne Flipo has created the new Libre, which has succeeded in encompassing the modernity of a freedom that few human beings were able to recount with their own lives. A formulation that took seven years and over 1,500 variations. The lavender of south Provence, once used for men’s fragrances; the animal scent of grey amber; Bourbon Vanilla with sweet yet at the same time balsamic notes. From Morocco, comes orange flower absolute, the plant’s noble extract– as Anne Flipo says, so rich it is almost carnal. The perfume and power of sex remain in the rooms and the pillows of Saint Laurent. Made together with the nose Carlos Benaim, from Tangiers, Libre blossomed between France and Morocco, in a land where you can see snakes on the ground – king cobras and hissing vipers, and whether or not they are sedated or tamed for tourists, looking at them at length is not in your best interests. Lands of Africa with the culture of the Louvre, where dust dances in the air, the light at sunset is orange tinged. That taste – of heat, sand and earth, of the fruits of an oasis which flower all year round. On the horizon, above the huts and the shacks, the snow on the Atlas mountains – the peaks exceed 4,000 meters, and that is called freedom. Streams flow down the slopes, making woodlands grow before reaching the desert. Provocation, that female sensuality dressed in male suits. Ambiguity and awareness – Libre is built upon tensions. On the glass of the bottle, designer Suzanne Dalton has taken the liberty of playing with Cassandra: a fusion of elements – metal, glass and perfume.
In 1972, Capote took part in the Rolling Stones’ American Tour. Not just concerts but real cultural expression – and Mick Jagger was the epitome of a carnal energy that surpassed the Beatles, multiplying what they had invented. The hotels were unable to provide security to keep fans and maniacs under control, so while in Chicago, the group was hosted by Hugh Hefner, owner of Playboy, and four days of constant orgies was envisaged. Capote was with them on tour, to write their story. As his personality dictated, he took his princess Radziwill along with him – he was a writer whose popularity was comparable to that of a rock star. Almost until his death, he would be women’s best friend – the same women who wore Saint Laurent. The skirt went mini not to show the legs but to allow for a new energy – the Saint Laurent woman moved fast. Catherine Deneuve, Paloma Picasso, Loulou de la Falaise, Liza Minnelli and Lauren Bacall. Bianca Jagger married wearing an Yves Saint Laurent trouser suit. In Paris, under the dim light of a street lamp, an androgynous figure wears a black tuxedo and a white shirt, with black, glossy hair combed back. Gazing downwards, detached, with legs apart, one hand in a pocket and in the other a cigarette. On her arm, a women wearing only a pair of black high heels. In this picture, shot in 1975 for Vogue France, Helmut Newton summarizes Saint Laurent’s vision, unrepentant beauties. Garments for women who want a double life. In Europe, there was Lady Diana. Queen Elizabeth forbade her daughter-in-law to present Rock and Royalty, but her mother appeared in the pages of the book, in a photo by Cecil Beaton. “Some people are born royal, others become queen on their own” wrote Elton John. Crown and microphone, rock, underground, street style. Everything was glamorous, everything was possible, everything was a media vehicle, advertising. Classic and Funk, Michael Jackson, metal, scented fabric, blady, tattweed. Heterosexuality a restriction, even homosexuality. Provocative images made a female go wild and a straight male swoon, taking both to heights of excitement and desire. Screw it all. It is a valid rule – in fashion as elsewhere, in everyday life as it is in love.
The Saint Laurent was dominated by the excesses and fragility of his nerves – Pierre Bergé joked that he was born with a nervous breakdown in progress. He loved scandal, provocation – a sort of dependency that prompted him to dare more and more, a constant obsession with freedom. He loved the silence of garments, which according to him should be presented without pyrotechnics, like the classic beauty of nudity: nothing is more beautiful than a naked body. Breaking out of cages and molds – a desire for freedom. A body flinching in a corset evokes fragility and shyness and is neither free nor powerful. A precursor to genderless, we owe him for the female reinterpretation of the trench, the safari jacket, pants and, most of all, the tuxedo – presented in 1966 in the Pop Art collection as an alternative to the evening gown. The Sixties, Seventies and Eighties shared the expression of sexual freedom: a freedom that began as a necessity, became a provocation, broke out as a revolution, to then turn into ostentation. From the culture of London, to the fields of Woodstock, exploding amongst students in Paris.