With such venerable predecessors, few could blame current designer Clare Waight Keller for feeling daunted. But she has taken the task in her stride, too enthused by its heritage to feel anything other than like a kid in a sweetshop.
“I feel honored to be part of such a rich history. I believe one of the most important values in design is to understand the spirit of your brand and stay true to it,” she says. “The pressure is always there, but it helps to drive me forward.”
Still, Waight Keller only needs to delve into the archives to feel serene again – nothing is more calming than stroking a silk sleeve or three. “It’s been amazing to have access to the archives. They’re much more playful than I initially thought. What stands out most is that throughout the changes [of designer], the attitude remains the most important thing about the Chloé DNA.” Her favorite pieces are a series of dresses from the late-’70s, “all pleated tulle with paillette stripes. They’re so pretty and ethereal.”
Waight Keller finds inspiration in “anything and everything: from
photos and exhibitions to blogs or girls I see in the street”. Can she spot a Chloé girl at ten paces? “What makes a Chloé girl stand out from the crowd is attitude: that’s what style is all about. I’ve always loved the Chloé attitude – it’s very much about a freedom of expression.”
Ask Aghion what the greatest compliment anyone could pay her about Chloé would be, and without hesitation she says: “That it has stayed true to its original spirit: fresh, youthful, and modern.” Still, the modest founder is surprised that the house continues to have such relevance. “I am astonished! But it makes me happy. I think that with Chloé I contributed to the emancipation of women. I fought for the freedom of choosing my life with audacity and creating something of my own. I always tell young women ‘dare everything’.”
Dare everything – there’s a rule to live by. Or, perhaps: Dare everything, and always wear good shoes.
Laura Craik is fashion editor of The Times newspaper
“Chloé contributed to the EMANCIPATION of women. I fought for the FREEDOM to create something of MY OWN”
GABY AGHIONcreditsHair: David Von Cannon at Streeters. Makeup: Fiona Stiles at The Wall Group. Model: Amanda Nimmo at Storm. Fashion assistant: Helen Broadfoot