You know how old Chloé is by now. There’s even a big retrospective exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, curated by Judith Clark, to mark the occasion. But this is not yet another of Paris’ grand dames of a brand so we don’t need to be coy about the lady’s age. In fact, Chloé was founded by Gaby Aghion precisely to do away with such old-world heavy-handed clichés. “I don’t explain anything, I lived the life I wanted”, she said and the quote opened Claire Waight Keller’s notes for her third collection. So, Chloé is 60 and my, what a life she’s lived! A young, 'shy' according to Madame Aghion’s son, Philippe, Karl Lagerfeld joined Aghion straight from Jean Patou, and if the collection Waight Keller presented in the Tuileries yesterday paid closer attention to a particular part of the brand’s archives it was Lagerfeld’s era rather than then wave of other British female designers that followed. And that’s a pretty strong statement from Waight Keller.
“After a year, you really start to get under the skin of a brand”, she said and this collection confirmed just that. Chloé, despite its taste for a frilly dress and white lace, is not really based on any solid design codes – it’s more of a feeling, a way of being. Madame Aghion, after all, may have shown chiffon dresses but she always wore a simple black tunic over a white shirt. There were many interpretations of that look in the show although never direct. The black wide popover over a white sheer blouse and black skirt, the only decoration a belt with two gold buckles was one as was another, this time with trousers. Waight Keller played with layers and ruffles in a softer way than we’ve seen elsewhere this week and that was very Chloé. There were many pretty summer dresses that women will fall in love with, a white strapless one with a frilly hem, another with a Grecian wrap on the top and sleeve or one in peach.
It was the tomboy side that showed off Waight Keller’s knack for structure – never rigid but enough to make the clothes sit away from the body just so. Maroon and white vertical stripes run down a shirt and a pair of loose trousers, two silver arrows racing down a white frilly top and she showed a fantastic coat in soft powder with rounded lines. And yes, there was a ‘tracksuit’, navy with silver sequinned panels on the side of the legs. The prettiness reached a crescendo with the finale dresses; frill and sheer and delicate and unapologetically lovely and young. Madame Aghion would approve.