A fashion house is as gold as its logo and history. We look at four iconic labels and their past to understand how their banner became so strongly synonymous with their brand.
French tennis player René Lacoste was nicknamed “The Crocodile” by his fans and the press because of his athletic boldness, pointy nose and a famous wager over a crocodile-skin handbag. Fully embracing the moniker, René asked his friend Robert George to illustrate a crocodile as his insignia, which made its first embroidered appearance on his blazer.
Together with André Gillier, owner of one of the largest knitwear manufacturing companies in Paris, René founded La Chemise Lacoste, producing tennis shirts with crocodile logos embroidered on the chest.
An evolution in the design of the logo sees the text as the same size as the crocodile to discourage counterfeits. Another evolution is the texture variation of the logo—embroidered, metal or printed—depending on the fabric or quality of the clothes.
To celebrate their 80th anniversary, graphic artist Peter Saville (known for his work for Joy Division and Y-3) designed a holiday collection for Lacoste with a range of abstract interpretations of the original green croc.
Aldo Gucci, one of Guccio Gucci’s (the founder of the Italian label) sons, designed the two interlocking Gs that symbolize the initials of his father.
With American designer Tom Ford at the helm as the new creative director, the Gucci logo was updated with a more modern and sensual look, seen in a metallic finish on handbags and storefronts. The double Gs are more closely intertwined, and one G is inverted.
In a departure from the minimalist aesthetic of Tom Ford’s successor, Frida Giannini, Gucci’s new creative director, Alessandro Michele, reverted to the ’80s double-g logo and reinterpreted it for his modern audience with thin, pointed ends. It made its first appearance on the runway in belt buckles, and later appeared in more accessories and clothing. A collaboration between Alessandro and graffiti artist Trouble Andrew, aka Guccighost, resulted after Alessandro saw the latter’s unsolicited interpretation of the double-g logo in the streets. It was a refreshing surprise that showed up on the Fall/ Winter 2016 runway.
The YSL monogram, with Yves Saint Laurent’s vertically intertwined initials, is of a distinct cubist style designed by Ukranianfrench artist Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, who was famous for designing typefaces, ads and magazine covers (notably for Harper’s Bazaar).
In September 26, 1966, Yves opened his first boutique for Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, a line for professional women who wanted a more accessible range. It bore a modern, color-blocked logo in a sans-serif font designed with perfume designer Pierre Dinand. Notably, the name “Yves” was dropped.
The Cassandre Yves Saint Laurent logo was used during the tenure of three different creative directors (Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati).
Under new creative director Hedi Slimane, the company rebranded to Saint Laurent Paris. While the YSL logo remained on some products, runway pieces went incognito without any insignias.
Anthony Vaccarello’s debut as creative director saw the unofficial return of the letter Y in YSL, and a throwback to the original 1963 logo on the runway. Though the old logo has been seen on stilettos, earrings and stockings, there has been no official word yet on a name or logo change.
Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga moved to Paris, formed his Balenciaga company and presented his first couture collection. His namesake logo appeared in an illustrated advertisement.
1970s to 1988
The monogram logo of double Bs is seen on handbags and made its appearance on a print advertisement for the release of the Rumba perfume—the first product released after Cristóbal’s retirement.
Under the creative direction of Nicholas Ghesquière, The It bag is born: a slouchy, vintageinspired bag with distressed thin leather and no logo. The extra-large studs of the bag became synonymous with the brand and recognizable anywhere in the world.
Demna Gvasalia’s first order of business was to exaggerate the Balenciaga branding on a few accessible items. Paying tribute to the brand’s 100th year, he reintroduced a series of Cristóbal’s archival dresses (with matching handbags, of course) as contemporary couture, each stamped with the house’s original logo, as well as the year, collection and vintage garment the new piece references.