Until recently, the logo was considered sacrosanct and inviolable – the fashion equivalent of the crucifix or the Star of David.
Think of Chanel’s intertwined Cs, Gucci’s Gs and those jangling, boxy bags that overlaid the initials D-i-o-r. Last week, JW Anderson unveiled his new Loewe logo, a reconfiguration of four mirrored Ls designed by M/M (Paris).
Lordy, that’s a lot of lettering. But what does it all spell out? Namely, that logos aren’t quite as immovable as we once thought. Hedi Slimane’s transmogrification of Yves Saint Laurent into Saint Laurent – abandoning the Cassandre-devised typeface and shunting the YSL logo off centre-stage – was the most visible, violent example. But it’s being subtly echoed elsewhere. One of Alexander Wang’s first steps at Balenciaga was to redesign the label’s labels.
Today’s rebranding seems tied to the need for a new designer to assert an immediately recognisable impact. It’s interesting that both Anderson and Slimane unveiled their branding before showing a single piece of clothing to the press.
Anderson’s logo isn’t so much an overhaul as a subtle rework. Its factual origin, says the Loewe press release, was the branding iron used to mark cattle and leather. The purpose of that kind of branding is, of course, to signify ownership. Possession. That’s what this branding and rebranding is all about: designers’ ownership of their respective labels, sure, but also making visible the otherwise invisible hold a successful fashion house has over its consumers.
It’s a shame people don’t care more about the clothes.