What’s a better way to show love than a creative greeting card?
For over 25 years, the French designer Yves Saint Laurent used his fashion illustration skills in expressing his gratitude to his friends, collaborators, and clients with LOVE cards. He did not give these cards during Valentine’s Day, instead, the cards were given as a greeting card for the new year to welcome the year with positivity and radiance. Saint Laurent’s sacred tradition lasted every year from 1970 to 2007, except for 1978 and 1993 where he referred to the years as “the years without love.” It remains a mystery why the years were seen as gruesome to the French Couturier. When those years showed height in the designer’s creativity, in 1978, the designer created spectacular costumes for Jean Cocteau’s play, L’Aigle à deux têtes (The Eagle with Two Heads) and in 1993 the launch of his fragrance “Champagne” was the third best selling fragrance in all Europe.
As Saint Laurent famously said, “without an elegance of the heart, there is no elegance.” The sentimental gesture of holding a joyous word presents Saint Laurent’s values, memories, and passions in cartes de voeux. Cards are how one expresses a celebration of expression to spark a positive force through a physical message and image where the receiver gets a sense of instant gratification. Saint Laurent embraced the power behind giving a long life line to an object that’s typically forgettable and thrown away. It’s Saint Laurent’s attempt as an artist of many forms by creating a poster-sized greeting card showcasing his understanding of art, history and style. It’s an extension beyond his well-known commercialized artistry in the fashion world.
Saint Laurent centered the slogan “LOVE” around new ornamentation, color palette, and graphics using the techniques in collage, colored pencils, gouaches, and markers. Showing the designer’s appreciation of artists Henri Matisse, Jean Cocteau, Georges Braque, and Andy Warhol. Saint Laurent follows the mindset of an artist by changing his style of cards every decade.
At the start of 1970, the style began with YSL’s snake motif wrapping around “LOVE,” representing creativity, rebirth, and transformation. Saint Laurent has kept the motif of the brand for countless decades as it was a cherished symbol that recounts Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s first arrival to Marrakech in 1966 where their first home was referred to Dar el Hanch, House of the Snake in Morocco.
In 1972, Saint Laurent centered LOVE in a sun linking his happy childhood in Oran to the luminosity of the power of love. “I have such vivid memories of those wonderful days in what was Oran, where I was born. I can see that beautiful city with all races of people together, Algerians, French, Italians, Spanish, leaving their mark of good spirit, cheer, and the craving to live passionately,” Saint Laurent recalls.
In the 1980’s, the designer experiments with typography from the Dada movement (1915-1920’s), Saint Laurent looked to Dadaists who would drop random letters, experiment with punctuation, write words horizontally and vertically in a variety of semi-bold type lettering. Graphics from the Art Deco (1920’s-1930’s) movement with its appreciation of the decorative arts, rectilinear shapes and symmetry by the layering of shapes are qualities Saint Laurent found applicable qualities in his design process.
By 1986, Saint Laurent makes his Marrakech Majorelle Jardin fountain his LOVE theme with the cobalt blue and yellow reminiscing his Moroccan villa. The French couturier often invited his muses Loulou de la Falaise, Betty Catroux and other guests at his Villa Oasis.
In 1991, we see Saint Laurent’s play of a mix art influences with the surrealism of Rene Margueritte and P0p Art style of Andy Warhol. The card present’s his pet bulldog Moujik painted by Andy Warhol, what a better way to express of love of man’s best friend? This card is special for its quality in showing a doubling of appreciation by Warhol’s friendship to Saint Laurent and in turn Saint Laurent giving it a new spin with his own card.
The play of making an ephemeral object a timeless one makes these cards even more unique to collectors, art lovers, and Saint Laurent fans. Far from the original purpose of cards, now these are art objects with a long life taking in the form of an esteemed piece of art. Consider Saint Laurent’s hand-crafted cards as a luxuriously original Valentine’s Day present as their bold colors make any home a little more vibrant every day. After all, aren’t we supposed to embrace love’s energy in every aspect of our lives?END
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