Gabriela Hearst took on the creative director duties of Chloé in December and has been shuttling between New York and Paris ever since. Resort 2022 is the first full season at her name-sake label she completed after the appointment, and she confessed she was concerned about pulling it together. But as time shows, she needn’t have worried – this woman is a force of nature. The 38-look lineup, which includes some men’s pieces, appears anything but dashed off. Hearst is making some of New York’s most finely wrought clothes: a double-face cashmere coat finished with a hem of sacred geometry lace, a dress embellished at the neckline with colorful agates left over from her pandemic-interrupted spring collection, a long linen shift with macramé chakanas inset at the chakras, a leather coat in earthy tones assembled like marquetry, and cashmere intarsia sweaters with famous North and South American sites from Yellowstone to Machu Picchu. Those are just the more obvious details. Meanwhile, her efforts around sustainability are ongoing. A jean jacket and its matching flares were patchworked in a rainbow of four different shades of deadstock denim. The collection is 49% upcycled or deadstock material, close to her stated goal of 50% for 2021. The biggest advances might be in her footwear. Sandals with deep cork beds are a guaranteed hit – the cork is harvested without cutting down trees and it can biodegrade. There are also boots made with natural rubber soles and espadrille flatforms built on a base of algae-derived foam that cuts down on plastic. Hearst emphasizes the couture-level embellishments and the nitty-gritty of responsible design with the same enthusiasm. But she’s most passionate about her many collaborators, from her daughter Mia, who painted the rainbow eyes that appear on some silk separates, to the New York artisans whose workmanship on the collection’s macramé-inset shifts she says rivals anything in Paris.
Gabriela Hearst delves deeper into the sustainable achievements of her Chloé residency, and it looks beautiful. Although I was not in love with Gabriela Hearst’s debut collection for Chloé, her next steps at the Parisian maison are promising. First, the direction of the brand’s Instagram, which is all about Zoë Ghertner’s raw, yet sensual photos of nature and female bodies – no aggressive product placement, no logo rebrandings, just idyllic visuals featuring poetic musings in the captions. Second, the resort 2022, which is a far better image of what Hearst vision for the brand really is. “We’re here on a mission,” she told Vogue, listing the impressive measures the house is taking to make its collections sustainable. If you came for the romantic mood boards and the classic tales of trips to the archive, this wasn’t it. “I haven’t gone to the archive,” Hearst said. “I feel like I’ve loved Chloé for so long and I have this idea of what it looks like. It’s not that I don’t respect what’s been done in its history, but I want the representation of what Chloé means to me to come out first.” Instead, the collection was an accelerated exercise in what we might discover to be our post-pandemic fashion mindset: What you wear is only as good as its social and environmental footprint. “We can’t deny what we went through on a global scale. Things are going to be different,” she said, referring to a cataclysmic year that shifted our understanding of environmental impact and made companies like Chloé – already on a sustainable path before her arrival – look to eco-conscious figureheads like Hearst. “Each collection is an opportunity to do it better,” she said. “I already did the least sustainable thing you can do, which is to have three kids.” In spirit, her proposal was geared toward those kids: the next-generation mentality Hearst says can’t come quickly enough. “We need to move out of the way and let them take over. They’re wired in a different way. They have a different perception.” In design, the collection’s Chloé-revering bohemian pragmatism reached out to generations somewhat older. Puritan-ish dresses were constructed in circular deadstock denim – with no metal, laser treatment instead of water, and recycled wood buttons – scalloped leather, and deadstock broderie anglaise. Linen trench coats trimmed with embroidered white edges demonstrated how Hearst might see a classic wardrobe staple through the instinctive Chloé lens she talks about. Blanket coats and fringed hand-spun dresses riffed on the hippie-esque references we historically relate to an eco-friendly wardrobe – not one for a cliché, Hearst likened them to techno dance parties. “Rave against the machine,” she punned, showing off a matching multi-color debut Chloé sneaker defined by its great, big stitches, every component created from recycled material. “I’m really attracted to product that feels handmade. I want to feel like a human worked on it.”