Gabriela Hearst Makes Her Chloé Debut By Honoring The Past And Looking Towards The Future

by Aaron Royce

This morning saw one of Paris Fashion Week’s most anticipated debuts as Gabriela Hearst revealed her first collection for Chloé. The bohemian, feminine brand’s Fall Winter 2021 collection has been the talk of the industry, ever since Hearst’s new role as creative director was announced last year—and the unveiling did not disappoint.

Chloé is steeped in heritage, which Hearst took care to respect. The brand’s show specifically took place on March 3, as the date marks the hundredth birthday of its late founder, Gabriela Aghion. Hearst wrote a sweet tribute letter to Aghion to mark the milestone, stating, “To Gaby, Your House is in good hands. The hands that work here are kind, big hearted, and multi skilled. Work is clear, and love is set. Happy birthday! Gabi.” Shown in a virtual format filmed in Parisian streets at night, models strolled out of Brasserie Lipp—a location where Aghion showed her early collections in the 1950s.

The collection that emerged strongly took on Chloé’s unofficial “by women, for women” mission statement—evident through its string of female designers like Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Clare Waight Keller, and Natacha Ramsay-Levi. Hearst’s designs were more reserved, toning down the brand’s bohemian flair for a softer look. The opening ensemble, a striped knit poncho with a puffer collar, felt quite literal: this collection marked a merging of Hearst’s and Chloé’s respective aesthetics. As more looks went down the cobblestoned runway, it became clear that the collection was reflective of the brand’s past eras. There was plenty of shearling and crisp cream tones (McCartney), smooth draped dresses (Philo), sleek outerwear and cozy knits (Waight Keller), and embellished and ruffled details (Ramsay-Levi). However, Hearst placed her own elegant touch on these house codes: scalloped ruffles were crafted on leather dresses, puffer techniques were used in bags and outerwear, shearling was an accent for coat linings and belted vests, and nearly everything was belted. For those guessing her approach to the brand’s longtime bohemian nature, she placed a sharp spin on it: leather cords with chunky quartz, citrine, and rose quartz crystals served as both charms and necklaces, and mixed media accents bedecked nearly every handbag.

Speaking of handbags, this was the season that sustainability came to Chloé. For a massive French luxury house, this was a first that hadn’t been explored previously—unlike Hearst’s own collections, which are rooted in repurposed materials. The collection’s key bag was the Edith top-handle satchel, a mainstay in mid-aughts lines, and poignantly chosen as it was Hearst’s own first luxury bag purchase! However, these Ediths were true vintage styles, as they had been given a second life with detailing like wrapped leather, chunky knit pockets and straps, or a range of fringe finishes. Patchwork outerwear pieces also repurposed materials from previous Chloé collections, bringing the past fully into the present. The changes might seem small, but they made a massive impact; Hearst stated that this collection’s environmental impact had dropped by 400%, compared to the Fall Winter 2020 collection.

There was a distinct lack of the accessory-heavy Chloé we’ve come to know under Natacha Ramsay-Levi, but it’s a change that comes with every designer switch at a high fashion house. The reinterpretation of the “Chloé girl” as more minimalist with hints of brand signatures like scallops, patchwork, and multicolor palettes was a sharp shift, but one that’s more relevant to the industry today. It allowed Hearst to focus on what she does best, bringing her texture-rich, contemporary staples to the brand known for groovy, girly pieces. However, Hearst’s utilization of Chloé mainstays (and a wider color palette) were a reminder that she’s simultaneously becoming acquainted with the brand and bringing her own take to its’ femininity. Case in point: Hearst closing the show herself, wearing a belted printed coat and tall leather boots.

We’re already anticipating the sleek, eco-friendly offerings that she’ll display next spring—and in the meantime, we’ll be craving her soft coats and knit dresses for the colder months ahead.

See the full collection below:


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