So you can’t sniff out your fav luxe brand. But you can certainly spot one without even looking at the logo! All luxury brands will have their signature style. Logo is just one of their many calling cards. They have a whole set of visual icons like classic designs, colours, symbols, patterns that have been built over time and etched in their heritage. Legacy and codes- what is called DNA- is sacrosanct in this business. They keep re-intepreting the DNA but never deviate far from the essence.
1. Dior – Cannage
Can-aa-ge(the french j sound)
From the highly coveted Lady Dior bag to packaging of make-up to the detail on heels! This pattern is a Dior code right from 1947 when Monsieur Christian Dior unveiled the “New Look”- his very first collection. And where did it come from? From the Rattan Cannage chairs CD ordered in his salon for the guests of his show! These chairs now have a special place in Dior’s history. Apart from their pattern being a signature style, you will always find the Napoleon III style chairs in every Dior showroom.
2. Bvlgari- Serpenti
Bul-gari ser-pen-ti(soft t)
You spot a snake and you know its Bvlgari. The serpent as a design motif first debuted in the 1940s as watch bracelets. These were a phenomenal success and since then the design has been incorporated by the Italian jewellery house in almost all forms of jewellery, watches, sunglasses and bag collection. In fact in 2013, to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Snake, they draped a giant, glittering likeness of one around their Fifth Avenue New York flagship store! The most famous serpenti design? This watch below that Elizabeth Taylor wore on the set of Cleopatra.
3. Gucci- Bamboo Handles
Few other bags in history have elements as recognisable as the Bamboo Handle on Gucci bags which came to be known as Bamboo Bags. But this inventive feature came about due to the rationing of materials during WWII. Artisans were under pressure to use materials that weren’t restricted and bamboo from Japan was one of them. Gucci artisans developed a patented technique to heat and bend the bamboo in such a way that it would retain its shape once cooled and affixed to a handbag. Et voilà! One of the most iconic bags in history was born!
4. Chanel- ‘Quilted’ pattern
The most coveted arm candy for ladies- the Chanel 2.55 was introduced in 1929 by Coco Chanel. The shoulder bag was shaped by various facets of Coco’s life and the ‘quilted’ pattern came from her love for the equestrian universe. A jockey’s quilted coat to be more precise. This design element became part of brand history as the bag was phenomenally successful and continues to be to this date, in all its new avatars, year on year!
5. Burberry- Tartan Plaid pattern
Perhaps the most recognisable and most copied signature patterns in the world. In the 1920s, Burberry created a distinct tartan plaid, which was sewn as the inner lining of their immensely popular and now classic trench coats. Today, it’s one of the most recognized symbols in luxury and fashion. It is also sadly the most imitated fashion pattern having found its way onto cheap bags, hats, car seat covers and what not!
6. Cartier- Panther
The panther has very prominently featured in Cartier’s designs over a century now. It is also an integral part of the brand’s communication too. The emblematic relationship started in 1914 when Cartier first introduced a wrist watch with jewels studded to give an appearance of panther’s spotted fur(see first image below). This was very much in line of animal prints being all the rage in art and interiors at the time. Since then the Panther has become an integral part of brand Cartier.
7. Christian Louboutin- Red Soles
So any shoe lover knows that Loubs always come with a red sole. And here’s why. While working on the final touches of the Pensée- the famous design inspired by Warhol’s “Flowers”, Christian felt something was lacking. He saw his assistant sitting nearby painting her nails red. Et Voilà! He snatched the nail polish and painted the sole red. Rest is history.
8. Louis Vuitton- Damier Canvas
This is the most beloved pattern of the world. Invented by Louis Vuitton more than a century ago in 1888- this is the signature square design of the luxury house LV. For over a hundred years now the Maison has been creatively and successfully re-inventing this pattern. And we’ve lapped it up all.
9. Bottega Veneta- Intrecciato
In-tre-cchi-ato (soft t throughout)
They carry no logos. But do they need to when this signature weave is their biggest calling card? This specialised leather-weaving technique called Intrecciato, was developed by the company’s artisans. BV even has a trademark protection of this design and carries it forward on their entire product range.
10. Azzedine Alaïa – Bandage effect
The King of Cling invented one of the most enduring fashion dresses of our time- the Bandage dress. Known to have been inspired by the legendary Parisian show Crazy Horse, Alaïa gave us the ultimate cocktail dress of all time. Use of innovative fabric and sewing techniques is his signature style and this ‘bandage effect’ he perfected is an ode to the female form.
We’ll be back soon with 10 more brands and their instantly recognisable signature style for you to easily smell them out!