Out with the old, in with the new. That's a founding principle of fashion. This season, it's been the ethos behind more than a few houses, dropping their leaders like hot potatoes, skimming by on design teams or dropping fresh names into the increasingly confusing (and confused) frying-pan of Paris fashion. Too many cooks spoil the broth? Try telling the luxury goods conglomerates that.
The latest new chef to take a stab at reinventing an old dish is Clare Waight Keller, formerly of Pringle (no foodie pun forthcoming, I swear) who replaces Hannah MacGibbon as the head honcho at Chloe. I reiterate that because, with this opening collection, you may not have noticed the difference. Waight Keller stuck close to the Chloe lines MacGibbon established - or rather, reestablished, culled as they were from the house's history of flimsy, mimsy, pastoral femininity. Think fluttery lace nighties as outerwear on winsome girls with corn-coloured hair floating around in a field of poppies. That sound dated and trite? Sometimes it is.
Most recently, MacGibbon infected her Chloe collections with a strain of rampant Celine minimalism, eradicating the house's signature romance thoroughly until left with clean, crisp, feeling-free design. The problem with being 'inspired' by the work of someone like Philo is that, without a strong base, it can just look like a high-street rip-off. MacGibbon often fell into that camp, latching onto the mood of the time through a sneaky sideways glance at a few other collections, hence her failure to stamp a definitive identity on this house.
There was a hangover of that referential approach here: Waight Keller's piping-edged pleats, simple tabard dresses and jackets shorn of lapels could have come from a multitude of collections. They were okay - they stood the test as Parisian fashion technically. Everything looked terribly polished and will sell up a storm back in the showroom, but what was there to single this out as Chloe? There was a lightness, granted, perhaps from Waight Keller's wishful thinking back to Chloe's seventies heyday. However, a resurrection of the flounced volume every other designer is latching onto doesn't feel unique enough to give a voice to a label that so sorely needs it.
It's early days. Maybe Waight Keller will find a way through those archives to an aesthetic that is both her own, and yet distinctly Chloe. But with the fashion merry-go-round speeding up season after season, she needs to do it quick, before her ride stops.