PARIS — Does Chloé have its eye on a key design talent on Nicolas Ghesquière’s team at Louis Vuitton?
According to market sources, Chloé has held discussions with Natacha Ramsay-Levi, who has been a key associate of Ghesquière’s dating back to his days at Balenciaga.
The likelihood of an engagement could not immediately be learned.
It is understood Ramsay-Levi remains under contract at Vuitton at least through the next Paris Fashion Week, scheduled for Feb. 28 to March 8 — as does Clare Waight Keller, Chloé’s current creative director.
Chloé officials declined all comment.
Ramsay-Levi started her fashion career at Balenciaga in 2002 and rose through the design ranks to become Ghesquière’s top design deputy. When the Frenchman exited Balenciaga in 2013, she went on to consult for several brands, including Hermès and Acne Studios, before rejoining Ghesquière at Vuitton, according to a Paris source.
An alum of Pringle of Scotland and Gucci, Waight Keller joined Chloé in 2011 and has brought a sure and steady hand to the house, rejuvenating its ready-to-wear and accessories business and winning largely positive reviews for her collections.
Waight Keller served as senior women’s designer at Gucci during the Tom Ford era and has also worked at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. She spent six years at Pringle before moving to Paris to helm Chloé, where she succeeded Hannah MacGibbon.
At the time of Waight Keller’s hire, Chloé chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye touted her as a seasoned talent with the creative, commercial and communication skills to manage a large studio. The designer, who has three children, recently moved back to her native England for personal reasons, sources said. A calm, soft-spoken woman with a ready smile, Waight Keller personifies the Chloé spirit with her long wavy hair and penchant for such Seventies-tinged styles as wide jeans, smock tops and shoulder bags.
In its interim report for the six months ended Sept. 30, parent Compagnie Financière Richemont reported “good sales growth” at Chloé, without breaking down financials for any individual brands. “After the spring 2015 collection was hailed as a turning point, this year has confirmed Chloé’s momentum,” de la Bourdonnaye wrote in the report. “Clare Waight Keller’s collections continue to receive both critical and commercial acclaim. The ready-to-wear and bags categories performed well, the Drew bag playing a key role in the bags revival.”
Sales at Richemont in the six months to Sept. 30 were down 12.6 percent to 5.09 billion euros, or $5.70 billion, due to exceptional inventory buybacks and a decline in demand across all geographic regions and in product categories, as reported.
The company also announced it was changing its senior management structure.
Parent of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, Richemont is best known for its specialist watchmakers such as IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre, along with fashion maisons including Dunhill and Azzedine Alaïa.