Saint Laurent, Pantone and the Power of The Pantsuit

Posted on January 06, 2020, 2:39 pm
4 mins


Fashion is a constant reinvention and reinterpretation of its past, all while looking for a fresh perspective. But it is also said that what is truly chic and stylish never goes out of fashion.

With the awards season upon us, the armchair critics can get a front row seat to what may be new and next—or not—in fashion. The fashion at the recent Golden Globes kicked off a new season with strong ties to its past, which includes epic details, larger than life silhouettes and reinvented classics, including feminine details and the power of the pantsuit.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Ralph & Russo. Image courtesy of Getty/Jon Kopaloff


2020 opens the door to a new decade of style as it nods discreetly to the past, and in particular to the work and vision of Yves Saint Laurent. This designer, who died in 2008, might have been amused to see all the glamorous and feminine tuxedos and suits that adorned this year’s Golden Globe’s red carpet, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, pictured above. Waller-Bridge wore a sequined black tuxedo designed by Ralph & Russo, a London-based couture brand founded by Australians Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo.

After the awards show, where she won for Actress in a Musical or Comedy, Waller-Bridge announced that the suit was “one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever worn” and that she plans to put it up for auction to help raise funds for the fires raging in Australia.

When Saint Laurent unveiled his first Le Smoking tuxedo in 1966, it was an idea that was shocking to the world at that time. The designer seemed to understand what a suit like this could mean for women of that era, but his interpretation of the tuxedo was also his creative vision of what it was like to be modern. Intentional or not, along the way Saint Laurent is credited for breaking boundaries one gorgeous cummerbund at a time, and forging the way for ending society’s restrictive dress codes for women. Today the suit comes with its own strong combination of power, individuality and personality.

The designer was also known for embracing color. When Saint Laurent and long-time companion Pierre Berge bought the Majorelle Garden in 1980 it was in Morocco that he was inspired to create color combinations that had been previously considered unthinkable. These bold contrasts included orange with purple, pink with red, and navy blue and black. Now these are part of the modern landscape of fashion today, as familiar to us in our freedom to dress as we please.

Dress by Christian Siriano. Photo by WWD/Shutterstock


When the Pantone Color of the Year 2020, “Classic Blue” was announced earlier, there was a collective yawn by many who see this as a dreaded basic. Perhaps using this color as the core of creativity rather than banal dressing, we can borrow from the pages of YSL himself for inspiration. This chic blue is a color that works for everyone, timelessly elegant in combination with black, playful as a partner to a brilliant yellow, or multifaceted as a tone-on-tone look. One really can’t go wrong, and who doesn’t love a sure thing?

Beyond the red carpets and the fashion archives, our ability to see new choices in this decade is the most inspiring. Whether it is standing out or blending in, the truest way to find your footing in a new era of style is to be ready to embrace new possibilities for oneself.

Lisa Cole is the fashion and style writer for Vanguard Seattle, and her work includes covering fashion news and events, runway shows and boutiques. She has her own fashion and lifestyle blog,, and is a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers and Fashion Group International.