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
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.