Gabriela Hearst ushers in a new era at Chloé

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She tells me that she sees the Gabriela Hearst line as Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war – a more cerebral femininity; clothing for women who run businesses – while Chloe is Aphrodite, the goddess of love, more sensual, younger power. Introducing Bellini, she produced a 92-page picture booklet with a Venn diagram indicating where the two houses would overlap in concepts, including “Handcrafted”, “Durability”, “Wholehearted” and “For finality”. But it also articulates clear stylistic differences. “You’ll never see a woman Gabriela Hearst in sweatpants at the airport,” she tells me. You will never see the scallop, a key element of Chloé’s stylistic DNA, at Gabriela Hearst. The hems for Gabriela Hearst will never go above the knee; Chloe’s will. Looks like the mythical Chloe girl is growing up. “To me, this is a Chloe woman,” Hearst says, although she wants Chloe to keep her spirit young. She is inspired by her 13-year-old daughters and 80-year-old friends. “As women, sometimes we want to feel younger, sometimes we want to feel older,” she says. “What we never want to feel is boring.”

Now, she aims to apply the sustainability approach from her own tiny house to Chloe’s much larger one. “To do it successfully, for me, will mean having a luxury brand on a much higher scale in volume than Gabriela Hearst,” she says. “It’s a very ambitious goal but something that wakes me up every morning to want to do this job.

For all of Hearst’s motivation, however, the most important thing in her life is not fashion but family and friends. His commitment to sustainability comes from a place of righteous anger. She tells me about a trip she took in 2017 to Turkana, northern Kenya, with Save the Children, a charity that she and Austin support, where she saw malnourished children and women. who had to walk for miles to fetch water. “It was exasperating to think that families today have to choose between migration and starvation,” she said. “We cannot allow this as a species,” she continues, nor accept it “as a businessman, as a woman, as a mother”.

The house has a long tradition of strong female designers, with the notable exception of Lagerfeld, who paved the way for Chloe with softly feminine dresses before leaving for Chanel in 1983, and Paulo Melim Andersson, who briefly ran the house. after Philo. Under McCartney, it became the French house of choice for the merry flirtation of the late ’90s; Philo, who took over in 2001, practically defined the boho-glam look of his time. More recently, Creative Directors Clare Waight Keller and Natacha Ramsay-Levi have produced well-received collections. With Hearst, however, Chloe is telegraphing a new focus on stocks as much as trends – or at least signaling that stocks are the latest trend. Today’s Chloe woman has different priorities. Bringing Hearst here is “very courageous”, declares Olivier Gabet, director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. “She’s less known to the public, but she has the courage and the vision to bring Chloe back to what made her strong in the ’60s and’ 70s.”

The house was founded in 1952 by another Gaby: Gaby Aghion, a dynamic entrepreneur from a Greek-Italian Jewish family who, with her husband Raymond, left her native Alexandria, Egypt, after World War II. In Paris, Aghion and Raymond, gallery owner and anti-fascist activist, frequent cafes and intellectual circles on the left bank. (Their son, Philippe Aghion, is a world-class economist known for his theories on how creative destruction can lead to economic growth.) Aghion didn’t need to work but saw a gap in the market between haute couture and bespoke tailoring and began designing cool cotton dresses that reminded her of her home – the pink and beige of Egyptian sand, which she said “smells like silk in your hands” – and selling to own brand stores. This is how high-end ready-to-wear was born. Chloe has always been “very feminine, very sensual, chic, very intelligent,” says Gabet. And while Chloé was born at the height of French existentialism, he says, “now it’s a question of environmentalism.”

Born Gabriela Perezutti Souza in 1976, Hearst is the fifth generation of her family raised in Uruguay. His father’s family emigrated from northern Italy, his mother’s from Portugal via the Azores and Brazil. Her mother, Sonia, still lives in Uruguay, off-grid, on a solar-powered ranch. (Family snapshots of Hearst as a daughter with her mother on horseback sometimes appear on Gabriela Hearst’s Instagram account.) Hearst is the oldest of four children. For the first year, she was sent to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, to live with her grandmother and attend the chic British School. “It was pre-globalization,” Hearst says of his childhood. “We didn’t have cable TV until we were 15. From the start, she knew she would leave. “It was very predictable, my future, if I didn’t make changes,” she told me. “You would marry someone from a similar background, you would send your children to the same school, you would become a member of the lawn tennis club. “

She wanted more. She spent a year in high school in Australia, returned to Uruguay to study communication, tried her hand at modeling in Paris and Milan, then moved to New York to study theater at the Neighborhood Playhouse, the Meisner technique. “It’s about playing with honesty,” she said. Although excellent training, it was not for her. “I wasn’t very good at taking the lead,” she says. She worked as a waitress and in a retail showroom. In 2003, in Brooklyn, she launched her first clothing line, Candela, screen-printed T-shirts. The first represents a winged woman riding a horse, inspired by her mother.

Akech exudes cheerful sophistication in an electric knit dress. Chloé dress and mules.

Photographed by Zoë Ghertner, Vogue, August 2021


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