The latest installment in our Inspiring Women series: the ever-stylish footwear maven Chloe Gosselin. Having helmed her namesake brand of elegant and trend-inspired yet timeless heels, flats, and more since 2014, the French model-turned-designer has found legions of fans in Hollywood players and beyond. With one of her latest shoes from her Spring Summer ’21 collection, the Celine, named aptly after style icon Celine Dion, here’s one woman who knows the power and value in lifting up those around her every day. Here’s the backstory to the brand!
You were born in France and traveled the world as a model, how has that background and experience shaped you as a person and designer?
As a kid I would move around a lot, changing school every year or two. It really shaped me and allowed me to make the big move to the U.S. and not be afraid, and trust that whatever path I would take I would find my way. I was never too attached to a place or a culture, don’t get me wrong I love France, but I always wanted to see what else was out there and infuse myself in whatever I would create. It happened to be shoes…
How, and when, did you parlay your modeling career into becoming a designer?
I’ve always had a creative side, growing up my main way of expression was always drawing. Then I went to art school to study painting and along the way became a model. So going back to sketching and designing was a full circle moment for me. Shoes are really the perfect bridge between art and fashion for me. The birth of my daughter Sky really changed my life and career path. I still modeled for a few years, but went back to school taking evening classes in shoe making. It took me a few years to get the project together before I showed my first collection during New York Fashion week in 2014.
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Did you always know you’d start your own brand?
I have always been passionate about fashion, but it seemed so far from me. I came from a middle class [background] and nobody in my family really knew about fashion, or could afford it. But I was drawn to it and my mother encouraged me to be a designer many times as she could see me spend hours sketching clothes and shoes. I remember being fascinated by Jean Paul Gaultier, or the first John Galliano collections for Dior. I loved story telling on a catwalk. Alexander McQueen was a revelation to me and still is to this day. I go back to Mc Queen a lot: his authenticity, his artistry.
What’s your earliest memory involving shoes?
A funny story is that my mom never wore heels, still to this day! But when I was three or four-years-old she had a job in a restaurant in Paris and I remember she had to wear this pair of pumps with a little heel and I remember being completely fascinated by them.
Are there certain seminal footwear designers you’ve always looked up to?
I have a true passion for Italian shoemakers, it is an art form. Having my own brand was always about that. Adding my twist to this incredible craft, passed down from generation to generation. I loved Sergio Rossi and I would literally spend all my money at his stores when I was a model. Gianvito Rossi, like his dad, is a genius who understands so well what women want to wear and how to make them feel beautiful and powerful.
Your brand “blends French cool with Italian craftsmanship.” What other reference points do you always have in mind? And how do you keep it fresh each season?
I always use my painting background to draw textures and colors. I love to play with materials and unusual shades in a subtle way.
Tell us about some of your most popular styles and who are fans of them.
Our mule, the Kasia, has always been a favorite and a personal one too! Last year Meghan Markle stepped out in them and it became a star. Taylor Swift is a big fan of my signature sandal, the Narcissus, which I’m so happy to bring back this fall in new hues. Our scrunchie styles are super recognizable (and were sadly copied a lot) from the Delphinium and Morgan sandals loved by Hailey Bieber or Issa Rae. Then there’s our iconic boot, the Maud, which is a favorite of amazing people like Jennifer Lopez, Indya Moore, and Julia Roberts. The Tori sandal is named after my friend and mentor Tori Amos, and it has been seen on the feet of Celine Dion , Gabriella Union, and Taylor Swift. It has been incredibly humbling to see all of these amazing and accomplished women choosing to walk in my shoes. The best feeling is when they wear them a second time! I love to knowing that they feel comfortable wearing them for these special moments in their lives. I’m also so grateful to all the amazing stylists that have been supporting me. I would die if Amanda Gorman was to wear my shoes, she is a true inspiration!
Beyond A listers, who is the Chloe Gosselin archetype and how do you design for them?
My CG girls, as I call them, are always the center of everything I do. They don’t fit in a little box, they come from everywhere and all have different paths and backgrounds—but one thing they have in common is that they like to be different and aren’t scared to embrace it. I love to accompany them through their day, from a flat or a kitten heel for day time to a sky-high heel for special occasions.
What’s your own style like?
I have a very emotional relationship with my clothes. Most of my closet is filled with one of a kind vintage, found by my best friend Shannon Hoey from New York Vintage. From Ossie Clark, Halston, Geoffrey Beene, Alaia, and Hermès! I like to collect designs that stood the test of time. For my everyday looks I like to pay with deconstructed tailoring by Monse, Sacai, or Huishan Zhang. But you will most often find me in a flowing dress by Alejandra Alonso Rojas, DVF, or Zimmerman.
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What three types of shoes do you rotate between the most in your own wardrobe?
My Kasia mules in every color with the unique bamboo buckle. My Emiliana flats with the oversized ruching and toe post in leopard satin or sage velvet. My Tori sandals with a bling in pastel shades of satin or black or white.
What footwear trends do you think we’ll see after a year in slides and slippers?
After the pandemic, I think people will want to be super dressed up but still feel very comfortable. I’m bringing back a refined brogue in my collection and I’m super excited about it. I’ll be wearing them daily next fall…maybe you will be too!
What’s ahead for you and the brand?
I have been working at developing my DTC business and I’m super excited about it. We will also take off on the road again soon to host trunkshows in our favorite boutiques. We have a few collabs in the mix too. I have been enjoying taking my time lately…
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