When Clare Waight Keller took the reins as creative director of Chloé in June of 2011, she had given birth the month before. “It was a fantastic opportunity,” she says of the coveted title, previously held by luminaries such as Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney. “I didn’t want to make it not work.” Already the mother of twins, she wasn’t intimidated by the challenge—including a new job and relocating from London to Paris. Of course, overseeing the 63-year-old Parisian brand from across the Channel might have been possible, but not exactly desirable to the 44-year-old designer’s sensibility for that famously Gaulois je ne sais quoi. “I wanted to embrace French culture, to be here—grab that quintessential Parisian or French spirit that I think is quite hard to understand unless you immerse yourself in it,” she says. “It’s a mentality.”
The very same thing could be said of Chloé, a house that’s intrinsically associated with womanhood and femininity (to wit, about 80 percent of the company is female, Waight Keller surmises), without being “prescriptive,” as the designer puts it. Indeed, one of the label’s defining characteristics is its sense of spirited freedom; it allows women to express their femininity without defining it for them. “You can embrace many different sides, from the boyish to utilitarian to romantic,” she says. “I think that’s what is really embracing about Chloé. There are so many different facets, but ultimately a style that’s quintessentially Chloé.” As someone who worked in the past at prestigious brands like Pringle of Scotland, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein, Waight Keller has a familiarity with all sides and styles.
For spring 2015, models floated down the runway in gauzy dresses and lace separates, conveying the notion of weightlessness, both literally and figuratively. There was a bohemian feel to it all, but the collection couldn’t have felt more modern. It was, in other words, quintessentially Chloé.
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