Steadfast Chloé gives a Gallic shrug to novelty and trend

Paris fashion week show sticks to looks from label’s past in a rejection of throwaway culture

“You don’t need to know a lot about fashion to understand a Chloé show,” the fashion house’s creative director, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, recently told Paris Vogue. This is key to the success of Chloé, founded in 1952 and with a stellar designer alumni including Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Clare Waight Keller. Chloé is interesting enough to be cool, but never so cool as to be intimidating. It is the Paris fashion week channel for contemporary culture’s obsession with the allure of French style.

Now in her fifth season at Chloe, 39-year-old Ramsay-Levi made a bold statement by making it clear she had almost nothing new to say on the matter of getting dressed. Timeless chic and individual style have always been more important than trend in the French philosophy of style, and this season Chloé, as the ultimate French-girl label, gave a Gallic shrug to novelty and trend.

A silk blouse is the little black dress of the Chloé wardrobe
A silk blouse is the little black dress of the Chloé wardrobe. Photograph: Peter White/Getty Images

The show opened with an ivory silk blouse tucked into tailored dark trousers, worn with chunky gold jewellery and lots of black eyeliner. A silk blouse is the little black dress of the Chloé wardrobe, and was the star of this show – in café au lait or the pale pink of Camargue flamingos, with scooped neckline or trailing ribbon ties. Airy georgette dresses, delicately accordion pleated, floated at ankle length and were grounded with biker boots.

Ramsay-Levi said: “A lot of this collection was about repeating looks I have already done. It was a statement – a sincere statement – that what I am doing is building a wardrobe which is not disposable. We are not making clothes that we expect you to throw away. This time around I didn’t try to add a lot of fashion novelty where we don’t need it. My point of view is becoming more mature. So the very first look was a blouse and a pant because those are perennial clothes, and the jacket this season is almost exactly the same as one I have done before.”

Models during the Chloé show
The central message was a vote of confidence in what Chloé stands for. Photograph: Peter White/Getty Images

The Chloé formula, she said, is “for daywear, half-feminine and half-masculine; for eveningwear, 100% feminine.” There were plenty of new ideas on the catwalk – one of the looks, a pair of tailored longline shorts worn with pale silk bloomers poking out at the waistband and beneath the hem, was what Ramsay-Levi wore to take her bow – but the central message was a vote of confidence in what Chloé stands for, and in the continuing relevance of its clothes from previous seasons. Presenting Chloé in a real-world context also impacted on the models she cast for the show, the designer said. “It is important for me to have women in the show who are a bit more grown-up, so that I can relate to how they wear the clothes.”


Jess Cartner-Morley in Paris

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