Mars 3, 2021 was not a regular day. It was the day the Uruguayan Gabriela Hearst showed her first collection as creative director at Chloé. In a 7-minute video, the new queen of bohemian/posh/ cool fashion was not shy about her savoir-faire and her concern about sustainability. Here are the 5 main reasons she ruled the fashion sphere for the autumn-winter 2021 season.
Chloé’s founder, Gaby Aghion, was born exactly a century ago from this fashion show. The fashion house introduced then to the world an offer halfway between ‘haute couture’ and ‘prêt-à-porter’. Among its creative directors are the renowned Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Claire Waight Keller and Natacha Ramsay-Levi.
Gabriela Hearst is a force of nature and has outstanding credentials for the job. Born Perezutti, she was raised on a ranch in Uruguay. She takes her gaucho heritage very seriously and its traditions and materials are a very important part of her creations. We should just take a look at the puff jacket/poncho of her first collection at Chloé.
She moved to New York in her 20’s, and in 2015 she founded her eponymous brand, which is carefully crafted with noble materials. Her style mixed a cosmopolitan vision with a natural finish, always having in mind to take care of the planet.
She won several awards such as the 2017 International Woolmark Prize for Womenswear. Hearst also received the 2020 CFDA Fashion Award for Womenswear.
According to the Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2020 report, Richemont is the 4th largest luxury company in the world with 13,82 million dollars of sales in FY2019. Chloé is its most important fashion brand.
We should take into account that the Fashion and accessories Maisons’sales on the Richemont Group 2020 report, included in the “Other” category, went down 42 % year on year in the first half of 2020. Nevertheless, Chloé’s figures are not specified in the report.
We will see in time if Gabriela Hearst’s designs can attain commercial success with the French house.
Hearst believes in “honest luxury”. This is a statement that has been close to her heart for several years as she tries to have a low impact on the environment. She’s very attentive to the origin of the materials and how they are produced. For instance, for her first collection at Chloé, she used upcycled materials to make the Sheltersuit coat, combining a jacket, duffel bag and sleeping bag, in prints that remind the essence of the brand. She also transformed vintage bags with leftover materials to reimagine unique products. We saw a lot of deadstock fabric and patchwork in her clothes and bags that match a cool attitude. This is an unusual approach for a luxury brand. Bravo!
Latin American power
Gabriela Hearst is a powerhouse. And she proved it by closing her first runway at Chloé wearing the final look of the collection. She stole the show with a determined walk while her facial expression showed how proud she was of the result.
The touch of bright colors she used mixed with neutrals from cream and beige to black and brown made us think of its Uruguayan origins. We could feel the joy in the atmosphere while listening to Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. This is a very Latin American thing because this Argentinian band was very popular in the region in the 90’s thanks to its contagious rhythm and rebellious lyrics. Gabriela Hearst was definitely “una matadora” that night, using her voice to stand for her ethics at work.
Gabriela had only 2 months to do the show and she owned it (even if most of the time she was in New York due to Covid-19 restrictions). It was an exquisite moment in fashion. All the energy surrounding the runway in the fashion film was magical. The catwalk was staged in a cobblestone one-way street in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, a chic area in the 6th district in Paris. In the nearby cafés, Gaby Aghion showed her first collections. The choice of this location was a tribute to the house’s founder.
During night-time, in the middle of the Parisian curfew caused by the pandemic, a diverse cast took the street in front of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church. The line-up included 30 looks among reinterpreted ponchos with a puffer jacket interior, striped knit dresses made of recycled cashmere, cut-out leather dresses and midi belted coats.
Without a doubt, an emblematic piece of this collection was the scallop coat, made of a very elaborate leather patchwork in earthy tones.
My favorite look was a cozy yet elegant outfit: the buttercream shearling coat with a turtleneck sweater and terracotta boots. It looked very Parisian to me. The texture of the leather juxtaposed to the shearling was just sublime.
This new Chloé girl is soft and strong at the same time. She can wear a fluid ivory silk dress with a pleated skirt along with flat mules in calfskin with shearling but also a voluminous long coat that touches the floor full of mix and match prints.
An interesting fact is that many of the repurpose bags, some of them with intricate patchworks, carry stones like lapis lazuli, amethyst and citrine, bringing with them mystic energy.
This Chloé girl walks on leather boots with wide heels, mules in knit with shearling, wedge strappy sandals, and even moonboots.
The show started with a song that said: “Para trascender tuve que pensar en lo que fui ayer y en lo que soy ahora…”. This means: to transcend I needed to think of what I was yesterday and what I am now. I think the whole show was well prepared to send a powerful message, not only about fashion and craftmanship but also about the will to use our resources more wisely. Gabriela Hearst looks into the past and the future to offer us a present where we want to be.