Today, Karl Lagerfeld is a household name. (His black and white silhouette is almost as recognizable as a quilted Chanel bag.) However, back in April 1972, that was not the case. Lagerfeld had joined maison founder Gaby Aghion at Chloé in 1964, and designed under the label as well as for Fendi and the occasional theatrical production well into the '70s.
From 1975 onward, Lagerfeld was sole designer of Chloé. Here he is in 1979, on the phone with bolts of fabric waiting his review. Notably, he styled his hair in the late '70s as he still does today. Lagerfeld would go on to debut his first collection for Chanel in 1983, a label that would make him, and the dusty house, famous.
In 1987, Martine Sitbon joined Chloé, and over the course of five years continued to promote the house’s sweet femininity. She also introduced influences such as menswear and the cabaret, while at the same time designing for her namesake brand. As the first female designer of the French house since Aghion herself, Sitbon ushered in a new era, casting the biggest models of the day - Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington , Claudia Schiffer – in her runway shows. Sitbon would go on to launch the well-loved Rue de Mail in 2006. In 2012, she was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.
It seems as if Karl Lagerfeld had a soft spot for his first job. In 1992, he returned to the maison, cementing the free-spirited vibe as central to the Chloé girl’s look. For the Spring/Summer 1997 collection, he cast supermodels Kirsty Hume, Nadja Auermann and other '90s favorites to walk in his show.
In 1997, Stella McCartney was named creative director of Chloé. At age 25, she was the youngest to be appointed head of the French house. Fresh out of Central Saint Martins, she had created only two collections prior to taking the helm of the house.
McCartney had much success at Chloé, although many doubted her skill and dismissed her as just a rock and roll star’s daughter when she was first appointed to the helm. However, her menswear-inspired pieces anchored the softer side of the house. Here, McCartney takes a lap around the runway arm in arm with Naomi Campbell, a year before she would go on to launch her namesake label. McCartney would go on to operate 51 freestanding shops and sell her collection in more than 77 countries.
In 2001, Phoebe Philo took the Chloé reins from her former Central Saint Martins classmate. Here, her finale bow at her debut runway show.
Phoebe Philo would go on to have great success at Chloé, and have the leading models of the day – Gemma Ward, Raquel Zimmerman, Caroline Trentini, and Erin Wasson – walk her runways, like her Fall Winter 2005 show. Earlier that year, Philo introduced the Paddington bag – arguably, the first ‘It' bag. Three years later, in 2008, she would go on to head up another French house – Céline – where she, and the label, became not only a go-to, but the only label for the chic, cool no-frills girl.
Clare Waight Keller designed knits at Gucci and lead Scottish knitwear label Pringle before coming to Chloé in 2011. Keller honed in on a certain aspect of the Chloé girl, and that was the label’s '70s bohemian feel. Like Philo before her, she introduced two bags that became must-haves, the Drew and the Faye.
Clare Waight Keller takes her final bow as creative director of Chloé, at her Fall Winter 2017 show. Like for those before her, Chloé has been a launching pad for the young talent. With six years at the house under her belt, Waight Keller was just named the artistic director of Givenchy, following the depature of Riccardo Tisci. Natacha Ramsay Levi was named her successor.