10 May 2011

Explained: Why Chloe Are Changing Designers!

What will now remain as Hannah MacGibbon's last collection for Chloe - A/W '11

So, yesterday we heard the unexpected news that Brit designer, Hannah MacGibbon, is to leave Paris fashion house, Chloe, and will be replaced by Claire Waight Keller who very recently left the Scottish heritage brand famed for its knitwear, Pringle. Today a few more details have emerged over the affair, although not anything that we could really describe as “juicy gossip”.

First off, the reasons behind Hannah’s departure have been cited thusly; ‘When we came to the end of Hannah’s contract, we talked about the future, and it seemed her interests and inspirations were more outside than inside the company,’ by Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, the firm’s chief executive officer. MacGibbon has presented six collections in total with the brand, taking it back to an easily recognisable aesthetic of the fresh-faced, girly, “Charlie Girl” mode of the Seventies.

 

As for the incomer, Claire Waight Keller, who was widely thought to have left Pringle in order to concentrate on being a Mummy for a bit (she is currently pregnant and expecting her third child  this month) – all eyes will be on her first show for the brand in Paris this October to see whether her visual signature will mesh with the Chloe brand DNA. What no one doubts is her experience – her CV includes stints as senior women’s designer at Gucci during the Tom Ford era, and she has also worked at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, before joining Pringle. As if the importance of knitwear for the brands future strategy was in any doubt, Chloe have also hired Tom Van Lingen, as the new head of ready-to-wear at Chloé. Van Lingen will partner Waight Keller, and he come from being director of Celine’s design studios since 2006. Before that, he was the knitwear designer at Sonia Rykiel. Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye himself said: ‘knitwear makes up more than 50 percent of our business and is becoming a huge portion of sales in the luxury sector overall,’ he said.

Until now the staple of Chloe's offerings have been high waisted jeans, summery blouses and tunics, little floaty summery sundresses as well as irresistible handbags. Now it looks like the next step in their evolution will be to add some serious heft to their Autumn/Winter collections, and add value with covetable outerwear and knits. Does this mean we can look forward to some amazingly yummy jumpers and cardigans from the Paris house? It certainly seems that way.

- Naomi Attwood


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