The tuxedo, believe it or not, used to be considered semiformal attire—something men wore to dinner at home or at their club. A lot has changed in the 100-plus years since Edward VII popularized the tail-less jacket. Yves Saint Laurent famously put a woman in a tux—he called it Le Smoking—way back in 1966. Ruffian's Tuxedo Park collection inevitably brought YSL to mind. It's hard to measure up to a master like that, but the show found designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais playing to one of their strengths: tweaking menswear codes for the ladies. Their version of the smoking came as a cropped black patent jacket, with an ivory silk charmeuse blouse tucked into a high-waisted satin toreador pant. Elongated blazers in a chevron texture that could double as dresses looked sharp, as did the oversize Prince of Wales check on a trim skirtsuit. And the way the designers turned a bib-front shirt into a panne velvet shirtdress was clever.
On the other side of the equation, Wolk and Morais showed a short cocktail dress with lace insets on either side of the torso and a ruff of frills at the neckline and shoulders. Absolutely nothing androgynous about that, or the little number dripping with silk fringe below the hips. The eighties-era socialite Gloria von Thurn und Taxis was an influence on the collection (note the models' pompadours), so the feminine elements, especially an ivory silk ruffle coat, were decidedly de trop. Much more appealing was the elegantly understated long-sleeve black sequin gown that closed the show.
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