Bygone Chloe

Bygone Chloe

CAPTION - Portrait of Gaby Aghion by Raymond AghionPortrait of Gaby Aghion by Raymond Aghion

I've not yet visited the newly expanded gargantuum space that is Le Palais de Tokyo in Paris but it's likely that the upcoming Chlo√©.Attitudes exhibition, which opens on the 29th September, will mark my first visit to the space.  The exhibition kickstarts Palais de Tokyo's fashion programme, which promises exciting things, where previously the space hadn't really delved too deep into fashion curation (despite Palais de Tokyo being frequently used as a Paris Fashion Week venue).  The exhibition of course coincides with Chlo√©'s 60th anniversary, an elderly birthday that might be surprising to some, given that Chlo√©'s history isn't exactly widely known beyond the recent history of Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo bringing the ready to wear label back to prominence.

Therefore I thought I'd idle away some spare hours going through Jalou Gallery (L'Officiel's online archive) and do a bit of pointless screencapping, illustrating one part of Chlo√©'s varied and at times surprising past.  I've left out the familiar Stella McCartney-and-beyond part of Chloe's history as I'm interested in finding out about the earlier parts of Chlo√©'s history    The exhibition will of course bring this part of the story to life and with the awe-inspiring curator Judith Clark on board, Chlo√©.Attitudes promises to be a Eurostar-trip worthy exhibition to go to. 

It all began with Gaby Aghion and her groundbreaking decision in 1952 to eschew stiff haute couture and instead design clothes that were readily available, but not necessarily lacking in qualityChlo√©'s contribution to the very existence of ready-to-wear can't be underestimated and even the name coined for the brand – an ambiguous name of Aghion's friend – set the ball rolling for down to earth and tangible fashion, without necessarily having singular creative egos attached to the brand.  The name also lent itself to the house taking on many different freelancers and in-house creative directors.  The exhibition is choosing to focus on the following creative directors: G√©rard Pipart (pre 1963), Maxime de la Falaise (late 70s), Karl Lagerfeld (on and off between 1965-83 and then again between 1992-97), Martine Sitbon (1988-1992), Stella McCartney (1997-2001), Phoebe Philo (2001-2006), Hannah MacGibbon (2008-2011) and current CD Clare Waight Keller (2011-present).  This isn't the complete Chlo√© rollcall as Aghion very early on decided on hiring a plethora of young talent to design for her maison, allowing different voices to build a composite brand that could adapt and flourish in different circumstances. 

This makes Chlo√©'s past a little inconsistent but fascinating as a maison that doesn't necessarily have one instantly-recognisable central signature.  The exhibition is going to shed some light on this design diversity as opposed to affirming what we all know about Chlo√© – that it's a house that does lovely feminine day dresses.  Waight Keller herself has found this intriguing.  "‚ÄúThe process of researching this anniversary show has been enlightening for me as it contradicted my preconceptions of Chlo√©‚Äôs design history completely. Whereas I‚Äôd imagined something very bohemian in spirit, in reality, it‚Äôs much, much more than that – clothes at the intersection of couture 'savoir- faire' and youth 'savoir-√™tre.'"

Yes there is that feminine ease and simplicity that can be found in spare jersey dresses, white smocks and relaxed knitwear but early on there were geometric prints and in the eighties, you had quite loud surrealist elements in the designs, instigated mainly by Lagerfeld.  It's not surprising that Kaiser Karl, being the manic multi-tasker that he is dominated Chlo√©'s aesthetic for well over twenty years, contributing furiously to the house.  He had the foresight to move Chlo√© in different directions depending on the decade, all the while establishing that pared-down femininity that is so associated with the house.  I'm particularly interested to see how the contributions of ex-Chlo√© designers such as  Martine Sitbon and early on, G√©rard Pipart moulded the brand purely because their work for the brand is difficult to see documented.  Like I said, judging by the imagery here, we're in for an exhibition that demonstrates Chlo√©'s variety and free-spirited attitude, rather than affirming any pre-conceived notions. 

Chloe71 Chloe71_1

Chloe76 Chloe77_2

CAPTION - Guy Bourdin, Vogue France, February 1979 - Copyright The Estate of Guy Bourdin - Reproduced by Permission of Art + Commerce
Guy Bourdin, Vogue France, February 1979 © The Estate of Guy Bourdin Reproduced by permission of Art + Commerce.

Chloe77 Chloe77_1



Chloe80 Chloe80_1

CAPTION - Antonio Lopez, Karl Lagerfeld For Chloe, Spring-Summer 1983
Antonio Lopez, Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé, Spring–Summer 1983


Chloe81 Chloe86


Chloe88 Chloe88_1


Chloe90 Chloe91


Sandra Suy, Clare Waight Keller’s first Chloé collection, Spring–Summer 2012


Leave a comment
  1. Miss Coco

    2012-06-14 at 7:59 AM

    Me encantan los figurines de moda, sobretodo los vintage!!
    Miss Coco

  2. Miss Kai

    2012-06-14 at 10:02 AM

    Fascinating post, Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Serdane

    2012-06-14 at 10:23 AM

    I love her story ! Inspiring !

  4. Elisa Eymery

    2012-06-14 at 10:44 AM

    Love the concepts around which Chloe has built as brand: paired-down feminity and wearable but quality clothes. Shame that some chavy characters in the years 2000 have somewhat tarnished the image of the brand. Long live Chloe!

  5. Tian

    2012-06-14 at 12:49 PM

    This is a really inspiring post! And I also love the photos.

  6. Lauren@Styleseer

    2012-06-14 at 2:21 PM

    The vintage photos and sketches are wonderful.

  7. Mertxe Hernandez

    2012-06-14 at 4:37 PM

    Such an inspiring post. We fashion designers have a lot to live up to!
    To find original, handmade fashion from the heart of BARCELONA, come to my online store.
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  8. ttea

    2012-06-16 at 11:04 PM

    I love your posts. They are really long and insightful. Some blogs are just a lot of pictures, but it’s nice to have some opinion as well. Great vintage shots by the way, I love old fashion magazines. I currently a Vogue magazine from my Grandma from 1969.

  9. ttea

    2012-06-16 at 11:07 PM

    I find Chloe’s story very interesting as well. I’m glad Stella McCartney has been able to rejuvenate it somewhat. I also have a couple of Chloe dresses from my grandmother. I’m interested that Lagerfeld wasn’t able to properly bring it back.

  10. Patricia M

    2012-06-17 at 3:27 AM

    I’m a huuuge fan of yours!, I live in Mexico City, and it would be wonderful to get to know you

  11. Jatinda

    2012-06-17 at 11:00 AM

    I think you are so right,I have also seen alot of blogs, with massive pictures going all the way down with such minimal writing.
    I have just recently started a style blog this week, and am still in the process of finishing the layout, so any tips such as the one you have given are great. I try to write as naturally and personally as possible.
    Feel free to leave any comments.

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