When news broke last December that Uruguayan designer Gabriela Hearst had been appointed creative director of storied French fashion house Chloé, it sent waves of excitement, but not surprise, through the industry. Despite founding her eponymous label just six years ago, Hearst has quickly become one of the most influential figures in the industry. With a focus on quality, sustainability and craftsmanship, Hearst’s utterly distinct designs strike the elusive balance between timely and timeless; and it is this innate skill that she has showed off to sublime effect in her first outing for Chloé.
Hearst’s debut collection responded sensitively to the needs of contemporary Chloé women, while also serving as an homage to the label’s innovative founder, Gaby Aghion. Hearst’s tribute went deeper than aesthetics: she went to great lengths to immerse herself in Aghion’s world, exploring and studying the café culture – albeit remotely – that has made Paris’s Left Bank the creative heartland for fields ranging from philosophy and literature to art and cinema – and, of course, fashion. It’s clear from the Instagram teasers Chloé published in the weeks leading up to FW21’s most hotly anticipated show (one of which featured a letter from Hearst to Aghion, in which she promised, “Your House is in good hands”) that Hearst was approaching the mammoth task with the utmost reverence.
Hearst combined Chloé’s classic brand codes so deftly with her own design signatures that the collection has the effortlessness and authority of a designer celebrating her tenure rather than her arrival”
It was inevitable that Hearst’s collection would have an equestrian theme. Gaucho culture has been a decisive element of her design aesthetic since day one, not to mention a long-standing theme in the Chloé universe”
But, of course, rebellion is a core part of Chloé’s DNA – Aghion was, after all, a pioneer of luxury prêt-à-porter – and so it was only fitting for Hearst to imbue the FW21 collection with her singular sensibility. As ever, Hearst’s focus has been on fine fabrics, quality and attention to detail – which means that butter-soft leathers and sumptuous knitwear play a central role in the collection. Hearst combined Chloé’s classic brand codes so deftly with her own design signatures that the collection has the effortlessness and authority of a designer celebrating her tenure rather than her arrival.
It was inevitable that Hearst’s collection would have an equestrian theme. Gaucho culture has been a decisive element of her design aesthetic since day one, not to mention a long-standing theme in the Chloé universe. Floor-length blanket coats layered over collared sweaters bring these two worlds together perfectly – eagle-eyed fashion fans will also notice that Chloé’s classic horse print features in quite a few pieces. This synergy is also evident in the covetable leathers – from long-line dresses finished with scallop-edge sleeves to technicolor trench coats enlivened by a recurring scallop print. Elsewhere, ethereal chiffon dresses and shearling jackets will delight the house’s established customers, while Hearst’s foray into utterly new territory – such as patchwork outerwear – will no doubt entice a new legion of fans. Of course, Chloé is a house whose accessories, particularly handbags, have been beloved for decades. And Hearst’s exaggerated and embellished iteration of enduring styles such as the ‘Aby’ and the ‘Paddington’ do not disappoint – and are no doubt set to become future classics; while her cozy yet chic slipper slides, waist-cinching buckled belts and chunky, heeled boots promise to elevate any outfit.
Simply put, Hearst’s debut outing for Chloé is a triumph. There’s no doubt that fashion fans around the globe will be counting down the days until they can shop this career-defining collection.
The models featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown