#SuzyPFW: Chloé’s Spirited Woman Follows In Karl’s Giant Footsteps
For Chloé, as for so many houses, a designer is required to pound ahead with the brand while remaining respectful to its past. The Paris shows are demonstrating the skills – and the flops – of those handling that heritage.
Chloé: Continuing along a fresh and fearless route
At the Chloé show, a set of six postcards was presented to the audience in memory of Karl Lagerfeld, who effectively started his Paris career at Chloé, first from 1966 and then again in the 1990s.
One of the pictures was of the young German designer with a bush of 1970s curly hair and a wild floral-pattern top. The woman beside him had a plunging top and not much else.
“I love fashion for fashion. I love to change,” the 30-something designer said back then, anticipating the fast fashion that appeared half a century on.
But do these looks, as seen on the show’s memorial cards after Karl’s recent death, resonate at all with current designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi? She had already said last winter that she had done a collection in honour of his work with Chloé.
“Karl Lagerfeld is what I have known about Chloé since I was a child,” she said. “The brand grew over 25 years, but it was always about femininity, glamour, and also the fact that he has been working with very strong women. For me, the clothes he drew showed the beauty of women more than taking over their personality. That’s what he excelled at for Chloé.”
Natacha, one of a long line of designers since Karl left Chloé for the last time in the 1990s, surely makes clothes entirely for herself, a woman with a major job and a son whom she kissed on the runway as she took her bow.
The collection was, true to her spirit: easy tailoring, starting with a loose camel coat and followed by breezy shapes that opened up to show prints of mountains. Bold amulets and jewellery bought when travelling are part of the designer’s look and she added many other elements, from prints to full sleeves and swinging skirts. It all seemed like a show for some fearless woman on a 21st-century hippie trail.
The designer herself came up with various references, almost always connected with nature.
“Sentimentally and politically, I really set this woman in nature,” she said. “The beginning is rounded out by the Scottish Highlands, kilts and Prince of Wales outdoor clothes that protect you from a storm. It’s an outside of cliffs, tundra, Iceland and volcanic. But there is sensuality, as well as colour.
“I really started by putting my woman in a landscape,” the designer concluded. And without any radical change, she gave a new and fresh look to Chloé.
Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have created a new ‘Memento’ collection that looks back at a typical area of the original Kenzo Takada’s work
“We were astounded once again by the volume of creatively and inspired printed pieces,” Carol said. “We decided to put the spotlight on the most vivid and diverse prints and graphics.”
The designer couple, who are rare in that they enjoy looking back at the founder’s fashion development, have already devoted themselves to a series of homages. This season, they made the most of the Kenzo tiger and of the favoured tomato motif.
Yet the big story about looking backwards was that the audience was moving forward, while in box-type seating that wheeled around digitally towards a series of dancers moving to an African beat.
The effect was dramatic, hyper-energetic and modern, proving that the future can burst forward from the past.