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Trends & Subcultures

09 January 2017

Monogram Trend: Fashion's Fail-Safe Must-have

In a world of high-street copycats, fashion logos are the last word in authenticity. With an ability to convey a brand’s character in just a couple of simple but distinctive symbols, these crests are as useful as they are ubiquitous. And while they benefit from the occasional contemporary twist, they remain a timeless symbol of quality and style.


From the very first Chanel insignia designed in 1925 by Coco herself to 2008-launched brand Nasir Mazhar’s modern geometric monogram, fashion logo's are just as relevant today with as they’ve ever been with monogram trend.

Monogram fashion

Monogram Masterpieces


The legendary Louis Vuitton monogram is one of the most esteemed. Created by founder’s son, Georges, the instantly recognisable symbol began to appear on the brand’s box-shaped suitcases in 1896.


Despite its continuous reinvention in a rainbow of colourways, the popularity of the original brown-and-gold version endures. It’s still emblazoned on many of the brand’s most essential travel items, such as the Keepall duffle bag favoured by discerning stars such as David Beckham.


The Chanel logo is now more than 90 years old but manages to look as fresh as it did in the 1920s. Although it's widely understood that the interlocking C’s represent Coco Chanel’s initials, a lesser-known legend suggests it was actually inspired by an identical symbol on the stained-glass windows of the Château de Cremat.


Fast forward almost a century, and Chanel logos adorn everything from diamond-encrusted double-C-shaped earrings to subtly embossed leather handbags. The insignia continues to pick up illustrious fans, too, from fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia and actress Keira Knightley to newly appointed brand ambassador Willow Smith.


Saint Laurent might have dropped the Yves in 2012, but the intertwined YSL monogram – designed by artist A.M. Cassandre in 1963 – continues to be a key element of the brand. It is the focal point of Saint Laurent’s contemporary handbag collection, along with other accessories and garments, and can regularly be seen on the arms of fashion muses such as Angelina Jolie and Rosie Huntington-Whitely.


Redefining the Classics


Logos never truly fade out of favour, and constant innovation means they often come back more influential than ever.


Marc Jacobs’ 16-year stint as Louis Vuitton’s Creative Director saw the French heritage brand launch its brightly hued Monogram Multicolore bag range by artist Takashi Murakami in 2003. It spawned numerous collections containing the Japanese luminary’s repeated LV insignia and pop art characters, in ongoing collaborations until 2007. The popular range was discontinued only in 2015.


Louis Vuitton experimented with monogram makeovers considered even more avant-garde during Jacobs’ reign, however, including controversial artist Richard Prince’s spray-paint logo on a myriad of colourful bags for SS08. The collection was critically and commercially slated, with suggestions that the brand had moved too far away from its roots.


But that hasn't stopped current Louis Vuitton artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiére from reworking the LV logo. Under his direction, the Louis Vuitton SS15 collection unveiled a brand-new bold silver emblem with chunkier lettering. Shiny chain details complemented pale blue, bottle green and mustard handbags, with textures ranging from snake print to quilting.


With its large font logo and tongue-in-cheek slogans, Moschino has been poking fun at couture since its inception in 1983. In 2013, just a year after he became creative director of the youthful Italian fashion house, Jeremy Scott championed the brand’s late founder Franco Moschino by injecting a generous dose of wit and pop culture into his AW14 collection. As well as featuring classically kitsch Moschino logo belts with metal buckles, Scott reworked infamous junk food logos into his catwalk show. The McDonald’s ‘M’ was incorporated into the Moschino heart motif and plastered onto the front of brilliantly brash red-and-yellow knitwear and handbags.


A Nod to the ‘90s


Calvin Klein Jeans ruled the ‘90s with a clean, androgynous aesthetic, defining the decade by printing the CK monogram onto its underwear.


The brand has looked to its past in line with the recent ‘90s fashion revival, by reissuing celebrated designs made infamous by former ambassador Kate Moss.


Nowadays, the waistband of CK white trunks can be seen peeking out from above slim-fit jeans on men. Women, meanwhile, are co-opting the look with distressed boyfriend-style denims and a logo-trim crop top, as seen on singer FKA Twigs in the label’s Spring 2016 campaign.


J.W. Anderson brought back Versace’s classic Medusa-head logo design from the ‘90s, adding it to his club-kids-inspired 2013 capsule collection for Versace Versus. Set against an electro-pop soundtrack featuring musician Grimes, tightly fitted tops slashed above the navel and androgynous oversized blazers were sent down the catwalk. Items were finished with gold Medusa buttons – the same which adorned the legendary safety-pin dress Elizabeth Hurley wore to the 1994 premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral.


Contemporary streetwear brands have also been receiving the ‘90s logo treatment. Nasir Mazhar updated the concept for his grime and sport-influenced SS14 collection, where monogram-adorned waistbands peeped out from underneath panelled satin boxing shorts and billowing sweats.


Up-and-coming menswear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, meanwhile, mimicked the Tommy Hilfiger logo with clever positioning of Russian and Chinese flags in his AW15 collection. The visual trick garnered mainstream media attention when A$AP Rocky was pictured in a Gosha tracksuit at the 2015 VMAs.


Whether in the form of a subtle zip or a striking all-over print, fashion logos act as a defining characteristic of a label’s aesthetic. From the classic monograms that decorate a brand’s most famous accessories to innovative contemporary reworkings, monogram trends continue to hold an important position in the fashion industry.


Monogram clothing
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