Logomania seems to have struck fashion again — for proof, just see Fendi Reloaded’s campaign or the recent nostalgic references at Gap. But one brand in its six decade plus history has never been swayed to add a logo of any sort.
Chloé chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye explained what lies behind the French house’s woman-centric, soft approach.
“For us, the Chloé girl is our logo,” he said. “It’s not so much the physical code of the different collections but the intangible values, which define the Chloé girl attitude.”
It’s an approach with some added benefits. “What is intangible is by definition difficult to copy. It’s more inalienable,” he said.
The house was founded by Gaby Aghion, whom the ceo met with several times before she died in 2014.
“When she spoke to me, she spoke to me like a teenager,” he said. “She was fast, she had wit, she had a continuous joie de vivre.”
Although a privileged member of the upper class, Aghion came up with a rather democratic vision for women for the day.
“What she told me many times [was that] she believed that Paris was the capital of liberty,” de la Bourdonnaye said. “She was shocked that Paris women couldn’t open a bank account or vote without the agreement of their husbands. It was just after the war in 1945.”
Alongside that realization, Aghion became determined to create clothes for the working woman as opposed to the haute couture pieces of the era, which were reserved for the leisure class.
While she did think like an independent woman, she also liked to emphasize the differences between the sexes.
“She did not believe in a common gender. She believed that women are very different from men. She liked natural, effortless fashion. She believed that clothing should not force the woman but outline the shape and express the personality of every woman,” de la Bourdonnaye said.
Eventually Aghion passed the baton to other designers. First, Karl Lagerfeld, which was considered a daring move given his German background and the timing so soon after the war. He stayed for two decades from 1954 and 1984. That was followed by Stella McCartney and her grungy London girl aesthetic, another big bet, as the designer was a fresh Central Saint Martins graduate.
Then in 2001, Phoebe Philo took over, evolving the brand in several ways, which included the launch of the first Chloé bag. It took almost 55 years for Chloé to create a bag, but the Paddington achieved It status. Its subsequent hit purse styles are the Marcie, Drew and Faye. Designer Clare Waight-Keller followed and then Natacha Ramsay-Levi, who was appointed in March.
Even with different designers reinterpreting the values of the house, the code has remained the same: a strong sense of sisterhood — “in campaigns of Chloé, you never see men” — naturally feminine, and capturing a sense of spontaneity.
There is a “subtlety with Chloé girls but they have an impact in their community. You need to be close to understand Chloé, it’s not a brand that screams. We never shout,” de la Bourdonnaye said.
“What we like to say at Chloé is that the brand awakens the girl in every woman.”