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Men'sWeek issue 01/09/2014

Paul Stuart is proud of its heritage — but not so proud that it’s lost its sense of playfulness.

This story first appeared in the January 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The venerable specialty store celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013, a year after it was acquired by its Japanese licensee, Mitsui & Co. Since its founding, its Man on the Fence logo has become synonymous with the store and a symbol of its Ivy League sensibility. The original logo was created by the renowned illustrator J.C. Leyendecker.

Although other companies might consider their logos sacrosanct, Paul Stuart agreed to work with students from New York’s School of Visual Arts to reimagine the Man on the Fence. More than 20 students enrolled in the master’s of fine arts program Illustration as Visual Essay created their own interpretations of the logo. Their work will be featured in a special installation at its Madison Avenue flagship in New York as well as its two Chicago locations beginning today.

The images range from the Man sitting in a subway car or on a park bench — complete with burgundy shoes and a colorful tie — to him sitting on the shoulder of a robotic figure in a futuristic world.

Marshall Arisman, chair of the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program, added, “There is always the danger of losing your artistic voice when interpreting or reimagining another artist’s style. Paul Stuart challenged the students to reform their icon done by J.C. Leyendecker, circa 1930, while maintaining their own artistic voice. The students then placed the icon in an environment of their choosing. The results are now showcased in the windows of Paul Stuart. The end result is testimony that individual artists can maintain personal integrity while referencing another artist’s work.”

Michael Ostrove, president and chief executive officer of Paul Stuart, said, “Since the very beginning, Paul Stuart has wholeheartedly eschewed the more commonplace aspects of tradition in favor of a more consistently modern and timely approach to classic style. What more decisive a statement of freshness and innovation could we make than in making our own logo available to so creative and enthusiastic a group of young artists as we have been fortunate to find at the School of Visual Arts?”

The installation will remain in the windows until mid-February.

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