YSL’s Letters

Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron or simply Cassandre – a Ukrainian-French painter, commercial poster artist and typeface designer – created the YSL logo in December 1961 only a few years before his suicide. As some have put it, “The challenge [was] in how Cassandre dared to break the unwritten rule of not mixing – in the same word – two typeface features that are, in principle, incompatible.

The Hermés Carriage

Hermès began as a small harness workshop in Paris, which was dedicated to serving European noblemen and creating luxury harnesses and bridles for horse-drawn carriages. The Hermès logo is a royal carriage and a horse – and uses a slightly modified form of the Memphis typeface which was originally designed by Dr. Rudolf Wolf in 1929.

Louis Vuitton’s Monogram

The Louis Vuitton monogram was first introduced in 1896 and created by Louis’ son, Georges Vuitton. Described as a “Japanese-inspired flower motif,” the monogram’s original purpose was to thwart the counterfeiting of the Parisian company’s designer luggage and is one of the earliest examples of fashion branding. The pattern of alternating brown and beige squares was known as Damier (French for checkerboard).

Paul Smith’s Signature

The ubiquitous signature is in fact, not Paul Smith’s own signature. Rather, it was drawn by Zena Marsh, a friend of Smith’s who created it in the early ’70s while working at his hometown shop on Nottingham Byard Lane. The signature logo “was never intended to be anything other than a mark,” says Alan Aboud, principal, creative director of Aboud Creative. “It’s a tremendously tricky device to use. It works small and discreet, or massive; any kind of middle ground just looks a bit awkward. It’s only with experience that you know how big it should be or how small it should be.” The hand-drawn logo was tightened up a little in the early 1980s when Smith opened his first shop in London.

Burberry Prosum Knight

While the mention of “Burberry” invokes thoughts of their eponymous check pattern and their invention of gabardine, it was 1901 when the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo was developed. Containing the Latin word “Prorsum,” meaning forward, many speculate that the knight’s armor reflects the companies innovation in the realm of outerwear

Versace’s Medusa Head

While we traditionally think of Medusa’s head as something unappealing, it is in fact her transformation into a beast by Athena that was at the heart of Gianni Versace’s intentions when he created the logo in 1978. The Medusa emblem picked up by Versace became an iconic motif in fashion as it evoked sheer authority, attractiveness and fatal fascination; three basic attributes of Medusa. “When I asked Gianni why he chose Medusa’s head,” Donatella Versace later said, “he told me he thought that whoever falls in love with Medusa can’t flee from her.”

Chanel’s Interlocking C’s

The Chanel logo was designed by Coco Chanel herself in 1925 and remains unchanged to this day. A popular story suggests that it was inspired by the stained glass windows in an Aubazine chapel which featured interlaced curves and also housed an orphanage where Chanel spent the latter half of her childhood.

Another legend says that Coco Chanel saw the interlocking Cs at Château Crémat, a château in Nice that Irène Bretz – a friend of Chanel – had purchased. As the story goes, “One summer night Coco Chanel looked up at a vaulted arch at one of Irène’s famous parties and found inspiration in a Renaissance medallion: two interlocking Cs.”

A final anecdote focuses on Boy Capel – the love of Chanel’s life and the source of funding for her business and her first boutiques. As writer Justine Picardie insinuates following Capel’s death, “There was no business contract to bind them together, just as there was no marriage certificate, but it nonetheless joined them, as the double C logo seems to suggest; Chanel and Capel; overlapping, but also facing away from each other.”

The Maserati Trident

The Maserati Brothers took inspiration from the statue of Neptune that sat in the square in Bologna, Italy where Maserati was originally headquartered. While Mario Maserati, an artist, was responsible for the original logo, he would never work on any designs relating to engineering or automobiles.

Prada’s Rope Emblem

While Prada chooses to solely use their name for most branding, they do in fact have an emblem with a rich history. The classic rope design that aligns the periphery comes from when the Italian house were appointed as the official suppliers to the Italian Royal Household in 1919 – thus allowing them to use the House of Savoy’s coat of arms.

Maison Martin Margiela’s White Stitches

The white stitches used to affix Martin Margiela’s label – often visible at the back of the garment – have become an internationally recognized badge of cool. Margiela states that they are, “A proclamation of anonymity, the desire to not to distract from the garment with a name brand, a response to the tyranny of logos. The four white pick stitches were first conceived to hold the labels in place and to be easily undone, thus rendering the item unidentifiable.”

The Rolex Crown

The Rolex emblem is an extension of the company’s slogan of “A Crown for Every Achievement” which has been used since the brand’s inception in 1903. For founders Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis, the crown represented prestige, victory and perfectionism.

The Gucci Double G’s

The instantly recognizable logo for Gucci represents the initials of the founder, Guccio Gucci, and was created by his son, Aldo, in 1933. While undoubtedly similar to that of Coco Chanel, there has never been any public litigation regarding their likenesses.

Harrods’ Handwriting

Created by Minale Tattersfield in 1967 – a partnership between Marcello Minale and Brian Tattersfield – the Harrods logotype’s aim was to unite a variety of over 300 products while both expressing the individuality of each product via the pack design and unified by a common style of typography under the Harrods brand. The gold and green color palette was fine-tuned, developed from a range of preexisting but inconsistent shades, and exact specifications produced from which no deviations were permitted. Minale Tattersfield updated the Harrods brand identity in the 1980s, adding the store’s four royal warrants and Knightsbridge location underneath the logotype, as well as a personalized Harrods typeface mimicking the signature script.

Ralph Lauren’s Polo Player

Ralph Lauren released a line of women’s suit that were tailored in a classic men’s style in 1970 and was the first instance where the Polo emblem was seen (a full two years before the classic men’s polo would make an appearance). To understand the emblem is to know why Ralph Lifshitz chose the name “Polo” in the first place. For him, he was interested in promoting a lifestyle and the sport of Polo which embodied a world of elegance and style.


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