Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fancy Pants

    The tuxedo is the smart way to dress up - and hide those knobbly knees, says Hilary Alexander.
    Jacket, £715, Moschino Cheap & Chic; trousers, £455, Dries Van Noten. Silk camisole, £32.50, Biba, £32.50. Photo: JONATHAN GLYNN-SMITH
    Tuxedos in pictures

    Knobbly, wobbly, or cobbled together with the scars of a hundred childhood bike-rides which ended in disaster (as are mine), they are one of the least attractive parts of the body, unless, of course, you happen to have a pair of perfect patellas, such as those which intersect the enviable pins of the Duchess of Cambridge.

    "Coco" Chanel, wasn't fond of knees; she looked upon them with distaste, decreed 'the perfect skirt' would always cover the bony abominations, and was the first women to wear trousers in public. (Karl Lagerfeld, incidentally, in his haute couture collection for Chanel, earlier this month, paid homage to the legacy by insisting all his models wore over-the-knee boots in satin or leather, veiled in chiffon and tulle).

    The tux is about style, not fashion

    All great news for women with a mild form of 'genuphobia', since trousers have emerged as the heroes of the new-modern wardrobe.

    Wide or second-skin skinny, flared or fitted, cropped or over-the-ankle, trousers are the ultimate anti-knee champions, flattering and fashionable, and, not to mention, way more functional and practical than a maxi-skirt.

    Their return to the frontline of the fashionscape, has prompted a re-think of the working wardrobe, as well as a revival in the way we address trousers for evening.

    The 'tuxedo', a la Yves Saint Laurent's 1966 'le smoking', has, of course, long been one of the usual suspects on the party circuit and red carpet, favoured by every celebrity from Bianca Jagger, Julie Andrews and Catherine Deneuve, to Naomi Watts, Mary-Kate Olsen and Eva Mendes, and has remained impervious even to the nonsensical ban imposed by the dress code-dinosaurs at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

    But tuxedo-dressing has been given an update by way of the 1970's revival in general, Tom Ford's glam take on the tux, and Marc Jacobs' fascination with one of his "fave" inspirations, YSL.

    Jacobs, unlike Ford, eschewed the classic black, in favour of satin 'le smokings' in the mouthwatering colours of a Ladurée macaroon.

    Designers as diverse as Donna Karan, Ashish, Balmain, and Dries Van Noten have merged the Saint Laurent look with glam-rock, via glitzy DJ-jackets and/or trousers which, far from being relics of 'the decade taste forgot', have a new lease of life because of loose-cut, 'boyfriend' tailoring. And bargain-hunters will find luxe labels like these a little more purse-friendly in the July sales.

    Create your own DIY tuxedo-style by putting a bling-bling jacket with plain black trousers or jeans, or vice versa, a tailored jacket with Dorothy Perkins' sequined strides, (as photographed); Markus Lupfer's gold, sequined stretch trousers, down from £350 to £175, at; or the Moto bronze foil, snakeprint jeans, £60, at Topshop.

    Then, put on the glam-rock 'n' roll Ritz with Alber Elbaz's favourite tux-cessory - a floppy bow-tie.

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