Elegant Lines

Today's Archive piece features Wladimir Marnich on the classic marque for the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, drawn by the master himself, A.M. Cassandre.

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My favourite version of the YSL logo is the original one which was hand-drawn by Cassandre in 1961. It sits framed – like a painting – on a telephone table in the library of Saint Laurent's apartment on Rue de Babylone in Paris.

In this setting, the logo is given the rare status of a work of art. The financial and, above all, emotional importance of this piece is demonstrated by Pierre Bergé's (Yves Saint Laurent’s longtime companion and business partner) decision not to sell it in last February's auction of their entire art collection organised by Christie's.

The logo is simply a beautiful piece of typography. Elegant and timeless. It perfectly represents the sleek, glamorous and sophisticated style of the House of Saint Laurent.

Legend has it that Saint Laurent and Bergé contacted the artist even before having the necessary funds to start their company. Cassandre was considered the greatest graphic artist of his time. At the meeting that took place in the restaurant Le Débarcadère in Paris, he presented just one proposal, the entwining initials.

A.M. Cassandre (real name: Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron) was born in 1901 in Kharkov, Ukraine. Famous for his poster designs, he was also a type designer (Bifur, Acier, Peignot), painter, set designer and teacher. He worked on magazine covers for Harper's Bazaar in New York and co-founded the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale). He committed suicide in Paris in 1968.


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This piece first appeared in Grafik 182, February 2010