Yves Saint Lauren and Swedish model Ulla in front of his Paris Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutique.
The Yves Saint Laurent logo, highly iconic and hotly contested. From Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent and back again, the brand’s logo has stood in as one of the most recognizable and revered in all of fashion. The history of the logo is actually fairly uncomplicated but apparently easy forgotten. The initial logo designs—the vertical YSL monogram and the horizontal, complete “Yves Saint Laurent”—were conceived by in 1961 Cassandre, also known by his full name Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, the Ukranian-French commercial poster artist. Cassandre, who’s work creating typefaces, designing advertisements and striking magazine covers (notably for Harper’s Bazaar) proliferated in the 1930s with a distinctly Cubist style. In a small feature on Creative Bloq, Bruno Sellés of Barcelona-based studio Vasava commented on the logo’s uniqueness—“He blends the letterforms with exceptional harmony, mixing sans and serifs in a subtle way, while successfully mixing roman and italic forms at the same time. The challenge lies in how Cassandre dared to break the unwritten rule of not mixing—in the same word—two typeface features that are, in principle, incompatible.” It subtly yet elegantly challenges the rules of visual form, and apt logo for a brand which has these principles in its DNA.
The logo’s 50 year legacy was further entrenched in recent memory during the tenure of Stefano Pilati who featured both logos prominently in his collections and campaigns. When creative direction shifted to Hedi Slimane and with that a massive overhaul of the branding, including a name change and logo change, Pilati’s favoring of the traditional logo definitely didn’t ease this transition. But a move by Slimane is never lacking in strategy, so clever it seems it takes a while for the rest of us to catch up. His rebranding of the house, including the logo, was a nod to Saint Laurent’s history as a ready-to-wear label. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the revolutionary ready-to-wear collection which Yves debuted in 1966, featured a logo in a sans serif block font and pink and orange sqaures created with perfume designer Pierre Dinand. It is this essence of the Saint Laurent house, the youthful street fashion, that Slimane was revisting —subtly, cleverly—in his debut of Saint Laurent Paris’ simple, capitalized Helvetica font logo. Many who cried sacrilege at the name and logo change were all too quick to forget the brand’s own legacy as a ready-to-wear label. The trajectory of Slimane’s strategy for the brand came together like a puzzle when he announced in a recent in-depth interview with Yahoo Fashion that he has been saving the original Yves Saint Laurent name for a rebirth of the couture house, exactly as Yves did.
(L) Harper's Bazaar October 1939 by A.M. Cassandre. (R) Yves Saint Laurent logo by Cassandre, 1961.
(L) Maria Carla Boscono in a YSL Opium fragrance ad featuring the Cassandre logo. (R) Kate Moss in YSL's S/S 2008 campaign by Stefano Pilati.
Illustration by Mike Frederiqo.
Yves Saint Laurent logo by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, photographed by Hedi Slimane, 10 Magazine.
Yves Saint Lauren by Stefano Pilati, S/S 2008 details.
Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ad, photo by David Seiner.
Saint Laurent Paris by Hedi Slimane campaign featuring Edie Campbell, S/S 2013.