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The expertise

Prior to joining Yves Saint Laurent in 2000, Mr Stefano Pilati, the brand's curent creative director, assisted Mr Giorgio Armani with menswear design, ran the fabric research department at Prada, and designed both men's and women's wear at Miu Miu.

The history

The black evening jacket has been synonymous with YSL ever since Mr Saint Laurent introduced his now-iconic "le smoking" design in 1966. The term "tuxedo" was born in 1860 when Henry Poole & Co of Savile Row created a black smoking jacket for the then Prince of Wales. A friend of his admired the look, copied it and wore it to the Tuxedo Park Club in New York, where the style subsequently took off.

The materials

The jacket is constructed from a fine 100 per cent wool material and is fully lined with silk, which is also used on the lapels, buttons and pocket trimmings. The trousers are constructed of the same wool, with a soft lining and silk pocket buttons.

The construction

The single-breasted jacket has a central rear vent and a sleek, contemporary fit. Hand-sewn, fully-canvassed construction ensures that the jacket hangs beautifully and will gradually mold to the shape of the wearer's body. Both the jacket and the trousers are made in Italy, largely by hand.

The details

The jacket has peak lapels and two buttons. There are two flap pockets, one chest pocket and three internal pockets, one of which is shaped to hold cigars. The front pockets of the trousers are secured with button tabs, to ensure that the trousers hang well. An in-built satin belt fastens with a discreet black metal buckle.

"I wouldn't work in fashion if I didn't believe that good taste is a positive message"
Mr Stefano Pilati, creative director, Yves Saint Laurent

Over his illustrious 40-year career, Mr Yves Saint Laurent firmly cemented himself into fashion history as one of the 20th century's most important and influential designers. Hired as an assistant to Mr Christian Dior in 1954 aged just 19, Mr Saint Laurent was subsequently appointed head designer at Dior three years later. This prodigious start ensured that when Mr Saint Laurent launched his own fashion house in 1961 his collections were met with almost instant critical acclaim and inspired a fiercely loyal following. In time, both the brand and the designer became known colloquially as "YSL", and defined Parisian style and elegance for nearly half a century, revolutionising the world of fashion in the process with the development of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) clothing and a collection of covetable scents.

Mr Saint Laurent passed away in 2008, but the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent exists to protect the designer's legacy. The brand was acquired by the Gucci Group in 1999, and Mr Pilati was appointed creative director in 2004. The label continues to thrive under Mr Pilati, whose collections combine elegance, luxurious materials and fine details, drawing upon the heritage of the house while remaining unremittingly modern.


Pictured in 1984 with his muse and lifelong supporter, Ms Catherine Deneuve
Mr Saint Laurent was equally adept at dressing women in mannish tailoring (and scandalising high society in the process) as he was at creating elegant dresses. Menswear was introduced in 1969
A sale of Mr Saint Laurent's art collection in 2009, which included works by Picasso (pictured) and Matisse, raised over $400 million, with much of the proceeds going to charity
Yves Saint Laurent's current creative director was studying to be a land surveyor when he decided to pursue fashion instead. Mr Pilati treasures letters from Mr Saint Laurent praising his work at YSL
In common with nearly all Yves Saint Laurent clothes, the suit is carefully constructed in Italy with many processes carried out by hand