Clare Waight Keller: Pretty, Cool

At her rambling flat near the Bois de Boulogne, the Chloé creative director mixes Parisian chic with English cheek.

Clare Waight Keller
Photographer: Hugues Laurent Stylist: Mari David

The Best of Times

“I’ve had the best of every decade,” says Clare Waight Keller, who has been the creative director of Chloé for nearly four years. “I joined Calvin Klein in the ’90s, just after he signed Kate Moss and Marky Mark to do those ad campaigns. Then I went to Ralph Lauren to start up the Purple men’s label. New York in the 1990s was so raw, and I lived in the dodgy bits, like Hell’s Kitchen.” In 1999, newly married to Philip Keller, an architect, she moved back to her native England for a job at Gucci. “I so enjoyed it. Tom Ford was still really involved, and he’s a world unto himself.” Now, the Waight Keller family—which includes twins Charlotte and Amelia, 12, and Harrison, 3—fills an elegant apartment near the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The change of scenery, she says, has changed her outlook. “The French have such personal style and really stick with it. As a result, I’ve become more edited, more focused.” That said, the Chloé girl shows not a little British insouciance: “Boys’ pants with a T-shirt and an amazing coat; sneakers with a long skirt,” says Waight Keller of the aesthetic under her reign. She adds Gallic flair with broderie anglaise, voluminous silhouettes, and “that French concept of beauty: the disheveled hair, no makeup.” It’s a look, it must be said, that she carries off rather well herself.

Family Style

Waight Keller’s twins are mini-Clares in the making, with long ponytails and precise school uniforms of pale blue blouses teamed with navy skirts. The studio and home, says their mother, are clearly delineated. “While the kids are at school, I’m flat-out at work.” She is responsible for eight women’s collections a year and oversees everything from eyewear to accessories to children’s wear. “But I come home and work vanishes as soon as I hit the door. Unless there’s something really urgent and pressing, there’s so much going on here that work isn’t in my head. I think that’s what’s really grounding about having a family: You don’t let the crazy fashion world take you over.” Every Saturday, she and the girls head to the Bois de Boulogne, Paris’s sprawling park, to play tennis on courts by the lake. “It’s the only exercise I do, but it’s so fresh when we get there in the morning,” she says. What does she wear? “Old sweats. I’d die if a fashion person appeared.”

House Dressing

The Waight Keller home is a trove of chic vintage finds: 1960s velveteen chairs from Palm Springs; brass and agate lamps; a curvaceous Italian armchair from the Clignancourt flea market reupholstered in black and white houndstooth; a distinctive Goyard notebook on an old wooden desk. “I love seeking things out,” she says. “Every few months we go to the flea market in Brussels.” Their most recent purchase was the steel–and–black lacquer coffee table that now sits in the living room. On the drawing room wall is a photograph by Ryan McGinley of a woman’s bent knees with a pubic mound at one end and a marmoset at the other. Waight Keller worked with the artist on two campaigns while she was the creative director of Pringle, from 2005 to 2011. “There’s a slightly strange, surreal quality to his work,” she says, “especially the night photography. I love the fact that he uses nature in such a poetic way.” But it’s the shoes that fill the bedroom fireplace, the sunglasses lined up on its mantel, and the mountain of coats slung across an all-but-invisible sofa in the study that broadcast her day job. “I’m obsessed with coats. This coral one is a Guy Laroche from the early ’60s. This is a ’70s mink; a ’70s shaggy knit blouson; the cream one is Chloé from this season,” she says, picking them off one by one. Hidden in a wardrobe are 40-some more. “Philip thinks the rail will break any day now.”

Photos: Clare Waight Keller: Pretty, Cool

Waight Keller in her living room on a Marco Zanuso chair.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent Stylist: Mari David

Waight Keller’s Instagram shot of the Eiffel Tower. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

A favorite Henrietta Dubrey artwork.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

A Chloé look from spring 2015. Photograph by Delphine Achard/WWD.

Waight Keller on her Jan Ekselius Etcetera chair.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent Stylist: Mari David

Backstage at the Chloé show. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

A view from Waight Keller’s apartment in Paris.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

The Brussels flea market is a frequent destination. Photograph by Peter Horree/Alamy.

Waight Keller and Harrison in front of a chair by Borek Sipek, a Belgian wood sculpture, and Ryan McGinley’s Marmoset (LSD), 2012.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent Stylist: Mari David

A beloved plaster horse.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

Artwork by Waight Keller’s twins, Amelia and Charlotte.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

A midcentury sofa is covered with a Pendleton blanket and cushions from Jonathan Alder.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

Waight Keller’s snapshot of a Chloé photo shoot. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

A Murano light fixture was found in an old bank.

Photographer: Hugues Laurent

Waight Keller on vacation. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

Her favorite travel sunglasses and Chloé bags. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

Her fashion heroine, Coco Chanel, Paris, 1950. Courtesy of Walter Carone/Paris Match/Getty Images.

A Chloé look from spring 2015. Photograph by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD.

A detail of a Chloé shearling coat. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

The family dog. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.

A Chloé look from spring 2015. Photograph by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD.

Flowers add a pop of color. Courtesy of Instagram/clarewaightkeller.