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Apr 10

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.

The Chalet font family


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.

Chalet New York 1960

Chalet New York 1970

Chalet New York 1980

Chalet Tokyo

Atelier Chalet

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.

Chalet London 1960

Chalet London 1970

Chalet London 1980

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)

Chalet Paris 1960

Chalet Paris 1970

Chalet Paris 1980

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.




permalink this comment Marc Köhlbrugge Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 02.48 pm

You’re starting to write more content-heavy posts (if that’s how you call it). I like it :) Nice font too :)



permalink this comment Albert Nils O'Nymus Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 03.20 pm

Some more, er, interesting information on Mr. Chalet:



permalink this comment Jon Hicks Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 03.41 pm

Thank goodness you’re using the 1980’s version - I dont think I could bear changing my typeface again!



permalink this comment Jeff Croft Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 05.55 pm

Chalet is a beautiful set of typefaces, but Mr. Chalet is definitely a bit of a myth! :)



permalink this comment Colin Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 06.46 pm

I thought François Chalet was responsible for that typeface until, one day, I finally got round to reading that beautiful piece of mythology on the House Industries site. It seemed to fit.

The few times I’ve had to use that typeface, it was for clients in the fashion industry. A bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy there.



permalink this comment Chad VanWalsum Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 07.25 pm

I think that has to some of the best designed typefaces I’ve come across.  Thanks for the information



permalink this comment Chris Lienert Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 08.33 pm

Great article (as always!)

FYI The Bauhaus link in the second paragraph is broken i.e.



permalink this comment Michelle Flynn Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 03.52 am

I would love to see the Chalet Tokyo font shapes in the thin Paris style… I can imagine the look of that to be my font of choice…



permalink this comment Ted Drake Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 09.37 am

It’s nice to see more people discussing the connections between web design and the history of art, design, and inspirations. Living in a vacuum keeps ideas fresh but shallow. Having a broad knowledge keeps them timeless. Thank you for introducing me to a new artist.



permalink this comment Darien Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 11.12 pm

The site is beautiful and definitely enhanced by the Chalet font styles!



permalink this comment Joan M. Mas Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 01.04 am

These Chalet fonts actually can be regarded as slight modifications from other fonts such as Futura (or its later reinterpretation, Avant Garde), Bauhaus or Univers. Not that I dislike them: House Industries sells an awesome collection of typefaces.



permalink this comment James AkaXakA Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 08.56 am

Mmmm. I like!



permalink this comment stchatterbox Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 09.12 am

Lovely fonts. I always wonder what kind of softwares do we use to create new fonts??



permalink this comment JaX Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 02.11 pm

What a beautiful typeface.  This man was an innovator.



permalink this comment Thomas Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 12.48 am

Just learned something more about the area I was grown up: the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. Also Adrian Frutiger ( who is a famous type designer as well was born in Interlaken. BTW: you should open a Wikipedia page about René Albert Chalet.



permalink this comment Sugar Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 07.29 am

Lovely font, Veerle. I like your deep insight on this.



permalink this comment Kura Thu Apr 13, 2006 at 09.56 pm

Nice article - but before we all get too excited - can we at least acknowledge that René Albert Chalet never existed.

From ‘Speak Up’ (


“For Chalet, a modern sans serif similar to Helvetica and Futura, House created a fictional character named Rene Albert Chalet, a supposedly unknown and forgotten designer from the 40s. The idea was to show how ignorant most graphic designers are about the history and activity of type design. The hoax was pulled off so convincingly, with the type specimens containing quotes about Chalet by some of the world’s leading contemporary type designers, that most people believed the story, and some design magazines even printed articles about the font and its inspiration without ever realizing that Rene Albert Chalet was a fictional character.”

Lest the myth will continue to be perpetuated unchecked :)



permalink this comment Ludwig Wendzich Sat Apr 15, 2006 at 06.44 pm

Hey so they guy never existed, his fonts are stll beautiful!



permalink this comment Miko W. Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 01.34 pm

Did ABC news network use the Chalet New York 1970 typeface for their logo?



permalink this comment rob Mon Apr 24, 2006 at 05.43 pm

Did ABC news network use the Chalet New York 1970 typeface for their logo?

sure looks like it if they didnt use it.



permalink this comment Stephen Coles Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 07.50 pm

No, the ABC logo was drawn by Paul Rand in 1962, but perhaps he was influenced by Mr. Chalet. Winky wink.



permalink this comment fck Tue May 9, 2006 at 07.40 pm

“The idea was to show how ignorant most graphic designers are about the history and activity of type design.”

Well done !

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