Change. It is a word that implies difference and different is the only way that fashion can be described in the current climate. To name a few differences: Louis Vuitton menswear transitioning from luxury to street, Burberry creating a new logo and Celine following suit with a new logo and arguably an entirely new DNA. These are just a few of the examples that I can name but they all have something in common: a new creative or artistic director.
One can understand the tremendous task that a creative director has… to create a recognisable visual identity…and subsequently to put their stamp on the brand. This begs the question, however, does a creative director need to change the logo in order to put their stamp on the brand? Is this what it takes to be remembered?
On one hand, I would say yes. Think about Karl Lagerfeld, the current creative director of Chanel. It is not a widely known fact, but it was not Coco Chanel but Karl Lagerfeld that invented the recognisable CC logo that now decorates the handbags and shop fronts of Chanel. In addition to this, a more recent example, Nicholas Ghesquiere of Louis Vuitton womenswear reinvented the Louis Vuitton monogram that largely replaced the old one. These are examples of designers who have placed their stamp on the brand by changing the logo but remained true to the foundations, vision and values of the brand. Essentially, one can still recognise the heritage of the brands and see the similarity—and evolution—of the original designer and brand.
It is important to note, however, that many creative directors have managed to put their stamp on the brand without necessarily changing the logo. Think Donatella Versace, without changing the logo, she has managed to create a recognisable and distinguishable aesthetic that almost anyone can recognise today. Evidently then, it is possible to put your stamp on a brand without necessarily changing the logo…it is whether you want to be remembered for changing the brands logo or doing something amazing regarding the aesthetics of the brand.
Interestingly, Heidi Slimane—new creative director of Celine—is not a stranger to rebranding. In fact, he did the same thing with Saint Laurent years ago. When he became the creative director of the brand, he decided not only to introduce a new logo, but rename the brand, transitioning from Yves Saint Laurent to simply, Saint Laurent, citing he wanted a fresh start. It is important to note that the reactions received by this change were similar to the reactions received by changing Celine’s logo: fans had previously remarked that the decision to change the Saint Laurent logo as ‘stupid’ and ‘senseless’ and similarly, fans have described Celine’s change with the same words. It is clear to see that the fan’s sentiments are similar and this goes to show that the sentiments six/seven years from now will probably be very different. Frankly, even I forgot that the logo ever changed and I have come to accept it and even love it… I am sure a lot of readers would agree with me. Essentially, what I am saying, is that while Celine and Burberry (less-so) have received negative reactions about the logo change, years from now it is very possible that the reception will be very different.
There is nothing wrong with recreating a brand, every brand needs to be reworked, revised and refreshed after some time. In fact, the very reason why creative directors change is so that they can do just that: modify the brand so that they can bring something new to the table. In Celine’s case, however, it was a totally new creation. There were no elements of the old Celine, none of the luxury womenswear label that it became known to be.
Even worse, however, is not that it was a totally new creation with no characteristics of Celine, but that it was a copy, a replication of the brand that Heidi Slimane formerly commanded: Saint Laurent. If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that I have carefully analysed the lines and defined the differences between inspiration and copying. While I understand that Celine’s creative director was previously at Saint Laurent, and therefore, one can imagine there would be elements of his vision, it is nevertheless a copy of a completely different brand.
One must always dare to be different and take risks—Karl Lagerfeld, Nicholas Ghesquiere and even Heidi Slimane previously did this—but when one does not stay true to the founding foundations of the brand, completely give it a new DNA and worse, directly copy another brand—even if that brand was previously yours—it becomes hard to respect. This is a message that applies to a lot more than just fashion and creative-directorship… one must always dare to be different, take risks, find inspiration in different people and different things and most importantly, never shy away from criticism… but always remember to stay true to your foundations, to your values and most importantly never copy and replicate others.