Gabriela in Paris. Chloé AW21

Most debuts are bumpy, epecially in COVID-19 circumstances. However, I can’t hide I’ve got some very mixed about Gabriela Hearst‘s first collection for Chloé. Knowing her style and philosophy at her name-sake, New York-based label, you could be sure she would take her sustainability-forward mindset to Paris (that was one of the main reasons why she was appointed as the creative director of the brand). Aesthetic-wise, we know her for ultra-luxurious, assertive minimalism with eventual, feminine details, but you will hardly find any irony in those cashmere cape-coats and gorgeous pleated leather dresses. Most of all, it seemed to me that the designer decided to revolt against the New York ‘Gabriela Hearst’ and let things take some sort of laid-back approach, in the spirit of the Saint-Germain-Des-Prés lifestyle (Chloé founder’s Gaby Aghion first fashion shows took place in Café De Flore. Hearst’s models walked out of the cult Brasserie Lipp into the empty, evening streets of Rive Gauche). The result is a collection filled with layered, nomadic silhouettes that unfortunately look cumbersome and overworked. The striped, knitted dresses, ponchos (they nodded to Hearst’s Uruguayan heritage), floating dresses (the flou is a must for every Chloé designer) and shearling coats were in general mild-looking. The designer closed the collection with puffer outerwear repurposed from Chloé overstock spanning designers and eras (I mostly noticed Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s memorable prints – the way they were clashed kind of diminished her Chloé tenure). The pieces were created with Sheltersuit, a nonprofit organization providing aid to the homeless, which also collaborated on a series of backpacks. As mentioned above, Gabriela’s Chloé will take a no-jokes road to sustainability (she said that Chloé had already decreased this collection’s environmental footprint by 400% compared to last winter’s line), which is admirable. She mentioned certified materials, circular economy, net-zero goals as just some of her aims for the brand, and placed sustainability center stage for her debut – as her inspiration, her material, her technique, and even her silhouette. This really does have a potential, especially in Paris, where that topic still feels dormant. But for her future offerings, she should get some proper styling (or editing) done.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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