Hon­estly Speak­ing

Chloé’s cov­etable col­lec­tions have blos­somed in pop­u­lar­ity over the course of six decades. Con­tin­u­ing in the spirit of the late Gaby Aghion, the la­bel’s trail­blaz­ing founder, is cre­ative di­rec­tor Clare Waight Keller. She talks past, present and fu­ture wit

Hong Kong Tatler - - Fashion -

n a sunny sum­mer morn­ing, I head to the trendy Hô­tel Costes in the 1st ar­rondisse­ment of Paris to meet the cre­ative di­rec­tor be­hind Chloé. For a brand that’s so equiv­o­cally French, it may seem sur­pris­ing that the woman at the top isn’t from France. But in the glob­alised mod­ern world of fash­ion, Clare Waight Keller is up to the task.

Waight Keller grew up in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land, and be­gan her ca­reer af­ter com­plet­ing a Master’s in Fash­ion Knitwear at Lon­don’s Royal Col­lege of Art. She moved to New York in the early 1990s to be­gin her ca­reer with Calvin Klein, just at the start of the Mark Wahlberg and Kate Moss era, and worked with Ralph Lau­ren in de­vel­op­ing Pur­ple La­bel, the brand’s pre­mium lifestyle line. Gucci in­evitably came call­ing, and she packed her bags and moved to Mi­lan. Af­ter five years with Tom Ford at the Ital­ian la­bel, the de­signer sub­se­quently left to head up Pringle of Scot­land in 2005. She even­tu­ally switched gears and joined Chloé in 2011—and has since gone on to de­sign 15 col­lec­tions for the main la­bel. As of 2014, she also over­sees the brand’s See by Chloé line.

I ar­rive to see that the de­signer is al­ready seated in a quiet cor­ner, off to the side of the court­yard. She stands up for a warm greet­ing and I no­tice she wears a wide-sleeved em­broi­dered linen red dress (pre­sum­ably vintage), wrists adorned with an ar­ray of del­i­cate gold bracelets and the sold-out-ev­ery­where lace-up san­dals from her al­lur­ing spring/sum­mer 2015 col­lec­tion. It’s im­me­di­ately clear that Waight Keller per­son­i­fies the brand she de­signs for.

We sit down and she or­ders. “I’ll have a tea with two teabags, please”—a true Brit. It’s Mon­day, so I ask what she did over the week­end. “I went back to Eng­land and vis­ited my par­ents and friends,” she says and beams. “I had such a nice week­end away.” Go­ing home may not seem like a true lux­ury, but for Waight Keller, whose ca­reer has taken her from Lon­don to New York to Scot­land, and now to Paris, a trip to the English coun­try­side may be a treat she doesn’t get to en­joy as of­ten as she would like.

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