René Albert Chalet font designer of my titles
2006 at 02.09 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
You can’t believe how many times a week I get the question what the font’s name is that I use for my titles on this site. So high time for an introduction to René Albert Chalet, the designer of the lovely Chalet typeface. René Albert Chalet could easily be one of the most underappreciated typeface designers in history. He did significant contributions to the fashion industry (especially prêt-à-porter clothing in the 1960s and ‘70s) and to the world of type, yet he still is an elusive figure. His main contribution is setting the commercial model for the present fashion industry.
René Albert Chalet
René Albert Chalet was born on April 20th, 1923 in Interlaken, Switzerland. He was named after the great French story writer Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant. His father shared the same disgust with the writer towards the self-obsessed pretension of the bourgeois. This would shape René‘s attitude toward classicist revivalism in modern typography and that would also lead to his contempt for Haute Couture. The strongest evidence of this is found in René‘s attraction to the Bauhaus philosophy and his future concentration to prêt-à-porter.
He also loved the opera and all the enchanting costumes that come with it. He got that love from his mother, one of her famous operetta was Jacques Offenbach, composer of the famous “opera bouffe”. He attended the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts, his eye for detail and artistic craftsmanship made him an ideal candidate for the printing trade. The ambitious Chalet found himself in Paris in the early 1940’s and submitted a typeface to Deberny & Peignot. However the typeface was refused because it followed the Bauhaus ideology closely and that was banned by the occupying Nazi regime.
At that time he sought comfort in his first love, the opera and started working at the Marionette du Theatre du Luxembourg in Paris. It was also at that time that many colleagues suggested that he should establish himself as a couturier. So in 1951 he started Atelier Chalet. He established a sleek and feminine style and followed the Bauhaus principles closely with his machine made collections that where mostly prêt-à-porter. To many Pierre Cardin is credited as being the first couturier to begin licensing his designs for mechanized manufacture, although fashion chronicles agree that Chalet was the first to make prêt-à-porter his sole focus. The French fashion establishment where threatened by the sudden shift towards prêt-à-porter so supporters of Haute Couture shout down any word of his accomplishments.
Fashion & typography
It wasn’t the first meeting between fashion and typography, Herbert Bayer, one of Chalet’s heroes served as art director of Vogue magazine during the 1930s. In fact, it was Herbert Bayer who originally inspired Chalet’s controversial typeface. The letters ‘A’ and ‘Y’ prominent in his premier “Nouveaux Silhouettes” collection are attributed to his explorations into experimental letter forms. His passion for typography was reignited when he had to design an identity for his fashion enterprise. He created an advertising presence that brought instant recognition to his expanding line of clothes. He changed fashion trends during the following decade and those were reflected in his growing font family.
The shape of the fashion industry
His influence was very noticeable in the frequent updated logotype of department store chains, some even emulated his signature trademark. It’s fair to say that Chalet was indirectly responsible for the shape of the fashion industry advertising over the past 50 years. He even had a typographic mural in the foyer atrium of the Belgian Pavilion at the 1964 New York trade fair. The Chalet font was released in July 2000 by House Industries.
(source Fontshop benelux)
Why this font?
The reason why I chose this font for my blog is because I fell in love with its pure simple shape. It’s the improved modernization of Avant Garde. This font matches perfectly with my blog’s design, no frills, but a style that leans towards minimalism.