Gabriela Hearst’s latest Chloé collection was inspired by the most famous Baroque painter you have probably never heard of, Artemisia Gentileschi.
That’s because she was a woman, of course, and Hearst has a passion for telling overlooked women’s stories, which this season also tied into her other passion, sustainability.
“We started a year ago with chapters for climate solutions, and the first collection was about rehabilitation and regeneration for the environment. And then we did clean energy with fusion. And this one is about the empowerment of women because we know that it is a climate solution to empower women from the educational perspective, from the economical perspective and we need to also have women in leadership positions…We need more bosses right now, everywhere,” said Hearst, who has helped transition Chloé to a purpose-driven brand that is B Corp certified.
Bosses like Gentileschi, who thrived as a painter in Italy in the 17th century, after surviving a rape and subsequent trial where she was tortured to verify her testimony.
Many of Gentileschi’s works feature women protagonists, such as “Esther Before Ahasuerus,” which depicts Esther successfully convincing King Ahasuerus to spare the lives of the Jews. So The Book of Esther was interpreted as embroidery on a leather skirt, blouson jacket and boots, and in a folkloric-looking multicolored tapestry dress crafted by Mumbai-based Chanakya International embroidery studio, which provides women from low-income communities with an education in hand embroidery.
Elsewhere, the Gentileschi theme was expressed more subtly in historical silhouettes, including a black-and-white wool gauze gown with heart-shaped bodice, a harlequin-like black-and-white diamond pattern coat, a romantic puffer cape made from ruched recycled nylon, and a cognac leather off-shoulder minidress with bishop sleeves.
“I like a gorgeous fabric in a not-too-designed silhouette,” the designer said of her pared-back vision.
Per usual, that also meant lots of pragmatic pieces, including leather and shearling outerwear, gorgeous suiting with metal coin buttons, lace knit dresses and leather slips, as well as more colorful pieces in the showroom, such as silk print shirts, dresses, sweatshirts and Ts telling the Esther story.
In a little more than three years, Hearst has nailed the formula for Chloé, and it works. Still, one of these days we might welcome a little bit of a plot twist.