Clare Waight Keller and the House of Chloe – a Fashion Love Story

28 September 2011

Clare Waight Keller of Chloe

‘I love the fact that [Chloé] was started by a woman, and I love the fact that it speaks to women,’ Clare Waight Keller told WWD on the eve of her debut Chloe show at Paris Fashion Week. ‘It’s not a conceptual brand. It’s much more sensitive. It’s intuitive to women.’ Ah. And what do the Chloe bosses love about CWK? Maybe it’s her reputation as a knitwear expert, a skill which she brought her such high regard at Pringle, her last job, or perhaps it’s because the Scottish designer fits well into the tradition of young female British designers heading up the house, after a succession of Hannah MacGibbon, Phoebe Philo and before her, Stella McCartney

Ms Waight Keller spoke about her inspiration for her creations for the brand and her favourite era in fashion — the Sixties and early Seventies — ‘when women were freed of the formal codes of the Fifties, and style icons like Jean Shrimpton and Charlotte Rampling assembled more freewheeling ensembles, even incorporating mannish clothes’.

She also loves street style blogs, for a demonstration of how real women style up various designer and cheaper looks and accessories together; ‘It’s more interesting for me to see how women wear other designers . . it’s more inspiring. There’s that personal sense — how women interpret it.’ She herself was wearing her favourite distressed jeans and a blue, boyfriend-style striped shirt, the sleeves pushed up past the elbow for the interview. Clare’s CV is an impressive one, including as it does - time at Gucci, working under Tom Ford, and a stint as design director for Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label men’s line. Her first job was as a women’s wear designer for Calvin Klein.

Lest we all begin to worry it’ll be a teeny tad bland and quotidian, Waight Keller does reassure the interviewer that there will also be a splash or two of colour on the menu. ‘I love colour as well,’ she said, describing a palette of makeup shades accented with ‘soft brights.’ as well as lots of silks, some pleated, played against a ‘boyish’ spirit in the shape and feel of trousers and jackets.

Well that has certainly whet our appetite for Monday’s show!

- Naomi Attwood


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