It speaks volumes that Natacha Ramsay-Levi – the freshly appointed Creative Director at Chloé in the wake of Clare Waight Keller’s departure – was excited about her debut collection instead of nervous. It proved a comfortability with the brand’s archives and aesthetic that comes from a background steeped in art history, design excellence, and high French sartorial standards.
The chief executive of Chloé, Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, summarized Ramsay-Levi’s pedigree, saying, “Natacha utterly embodies my idea of the Chloé girl. She is creative and daring, refined and sophisticated, beautiful and with a fierce point of view. She is cool; she is streetwise and very French in her approach. Also, she is extremely well-trained in the art of couture and has extensive experience of the pressures of working for a big international brand.” Ramsay-Levi’s cultural upbringing is a big deal – she’s the first French woman to lead the house since its founder Gaby Aghion.
If it sounds like a match made in fashion business heaven, that’s because it was.
Chloé’s Spring/Summer 2018 presentation will go down in history as one of the better designer debuts at an established house. To the well-trained eye it still clearly reads “Chloé”, stamped with plenty of new and invigorating ideas that demonstrate Ramsay-Levi’s skill. This is the collection’s greatest success: that it is not divorced from its own universe, but rather has formed a sensible new planet within it, a new branch on the tree of the brand’s lineage, a marriage of past and present ideals that felt pitch-perfect for the moment.
Chloé’s Spring/Summer 2018 presentation will go down in history as one of the better designer debuts at an established house.
Chloé’s breezy, bohemian aesthetic was (wisely) the foundation of the collection, but Ramsay-Levi built up its tough side with equestrian elements like horsebit closures. For example, a variety of romantic poet blouses with flared sleeves were accented by metal-pierced perforations – boho meets editorial detailing. There were shirtdresses embroidered with “gun holster” details, split front sweaters shot through with metallic sequins, whipstitched crop trousers, and a focus on three “Ts”: tabards, tunics, and trenches.
Ramsay-Levi also had a few surprises up her sleeve, namely velvets decorated with embroidery that depicted rearing horses – shown on pant suits, jumpsuits and blazers – an archival element which was resurrected from the Stella McCartney era of the house. Just in case you were worried that Chloé’s bohemia might take a backseat, Ramsay-Levi made sure to include plenty of signatures: painted frocks, dainty floral prints on mousseline, and multi-strapped future “It” bags.
Although Ramsay-Levi is not yet a household name, Chloé has seen the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, and Clare Waight Keller file through its doors over the decades, which all but assures her spot amid a constellation of star designers. Like her predecessors, it is her skill, confidence, and clearly demonstrated understanding of the brand that will put her there.