Yves Saint Laurent is one of the most respected and sought after of the classic French fashion houses, and it’s logo is one of the most iconic in all of fashion history. The YSL logo was originally designed by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre in 1961. Cassandra designed the logo to be classic and chic but with a hard edge. He also combined styles within the logo, roman and italic to be specific, that were ‘against the rules’ to combine at the time, which is genius because it perfectly reflected the brand’s ethos of breaking the rules within the fashion industry.
Cassandre was a French commercial poster artist of Ukrainian descent who’s career was most active in the 1930’s. He designed many magazine covers and advertisements, for such publications as Harper’s Bazaar, and was known for a Cubist style. Although his design is the most classical logo for Yves Saint Laurent, considering it was the original design for the brand upon it’s creation by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his business partner Pierre Berge, there have been major redesigns of the logo since then.
In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent introduced a ready to wear line, called Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, to complement his already successful couture line, and debuted with it a new logo. This Rive Gauche logo was designed in collaboration with perfumer Pierre Dinand, and featured sans serif font and orange and pink squares. This logo was meant to capture the energy and spirit of Parisian youth culture, and after the logo was changed back to the classic Cassandra design by Stefano Pilati, YSL’s creative director during the early 2000’s, a new creative director, named Hedi Slimane, arrived in 2012 and shocked the fashion industry with a total redesign of the classic YSL logo. Slimane introduced a bold Helvetica version, and shortened the name of the brand to just Saint Laurent. He made these changes to reference the 1966 Rive Gauche logo, as he was intent on bringing back the energy and rock star attitude of youth culture which the original Rive Gauche line so brilliantly did.
The rebellious energy that is now so synonymous with the Saint Laurent brand and logo are carried through to the brand’s advertisements. Throughout Hedi Slimane and the current creative director, Anthony Vaccarello’s tenure, the brand’s advertisements have featured young rock stars and artists, whose attitudes and style perfectly mirror the energy of the current logo. The current logo, and Slimane’s total overhaul of the brand’s visual identity, have been incredibly influential on the fashion industry at large and other creative directors of major luxury brands. This is most evident in Raf Simon’s total overhaul of Calvin Klein’s visual identity and also Riccardo Tisci’s overhaul of Burberry’s visual identity.
YSL fragrance ad
YSL ad – circa 2013
Saint Laurent Rive Gauche logo – 1966
Charlotte Gainsbourg (actress) in a Saint Laurent dress
Bradley, Laura. “Adolphe Mouron Cassandre’s YSL Logo.” AnOther, 20 July 2012, www.anothermag.com/art-photography/2069/adolphe-mouron-cassandres-ysl-logo.
King, Meghan. “The History of the YSL Logo.” Shrimptoncouture.com, 2015, www.shrimptoncouture.com/blogs/curated/46011073-the-history-of-the-ysl-logo.
Roberts, Paul G. “The Magic of the Iconic Yves Saint Laurent Logo.” FIB, 2 Feb. 2017, fashionindustrybroadcast.com/2017/02/02/magic-iconic-yves-saint-laurent-logo/.