Story of O - Pauline Réage
The redesign is for the best selling if controversial title Story of O, first published in 1954. Since its initial publication, the book's literary stature has grown, including plaudits from great writers, such as Grahame Greene, Harold Pinter and J.G. Ballard.
The book was published in mysterious circumstances in Paris and regarded risqué for its portrayal of erotic intensity, a first for a woman author. Dominique Aury writing under the pseudonym Pauline Réage reveals intimate details of her life. Slowly Story of O became a notorious underground classic and has grown in popularity ever since.
Its appearance in France tells us much about the mores of the times, as initially it was not published in England or the United States due to censorship laws.
The French establishment did not always have a comfortable relationship with Story of O, but the government included it on a list of national triumphs to be celebrated in 2004.
I aimed to communicate the book's key themes for the cover design, including the hallucinogenic-like writing style and erotic charge of the narrative and the suggestion of covert activities that conjure up Paris's mysterious, thrilling, yet forbidden milieu.
The intention was to avoid the cliches of contemporary erotic novel design tropes and visually reposition the book towards a new readership, and evoking the spirit and period abstractly and celebrating this groundbreaking and intellectual reading of the genre by a great writer.
With its shocking pink and green colourway matched with the fragmented black and white aesthetic, the visual language communicates a labyrinthine idea of the book's subject matter that signifies passion, pleasure, excitement, risk, and danger. The urban vernacular of 1950s Parisian shop signs informs the title typography.
The text pages are set in a classic (Old-style) serif typeface, reflecting the book's concept of the normality of the surface of everyday life. Yet, its contents are contrary to that veneer of normality and respectability, and it is formatted ragged right to infer a disruption to an ordered appearance.