Women. Chloé AW20

The Chloé invitation came with a mini poster of a Rita Ackermann painting. The artist provided access to five additional pieces from the ’90s and ’00s at Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s request, and the designer used them as patches on the front and back of a button-down shirt, as a design on a blanket shawl (Leave Me Alone, 1995), and as an actual-size print for a flowing shirtdress. Golden totem sculptures by Marion Verboom decorated the runway, and Marianne Faithfull smokily read Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” and other poems on the soundtrack. Still more women creatives joined the models on the catwalk. “It’s about a community of creative spirits,” Ramsay-Levi stated. “Yes, clothes are great, but I love creative women.” After three years at the helm of the brand, Natacha accumulated her biggest Chloé signatures for autumn-winter 2020: the tailoring, the soft blouses, the romantic dresses. She infused them with personal touches that made them even more special. Suits leaned ’70s, with easy flaring pants and rolled-sleeve jackets. Her blouses had delicately jeweled buttons and cuff links, and her romantic dresses were alternately inset with bands of crochet at the hem or decorated with enamel embroidery at their peekaboo necklines. The Rita Ackermann prints worked their charm too. Natacha Ramsay-Levi is one of those “woman for women” designers, and since Phoebe Philo still hasn’t come back yet, she leads the pack.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Simpler. Chloé SS20

It’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s fifth season at Chloé, and she decided on some changes. Less over-sophisticated details, boho prints and messy accessorising for spring-summer 2020. “I’m thinking of it as chapter two for myself. I’ve tried a lot of different things; I thought, let’s simplify – be honest and true.” While such approach results in less ‘show-stoppers’ for magazine editorials (and stuff that always ends up on heavy discount), this collection proved to be one of her strongest in a while. Where earlier Ramsay-Levi might have avoided familiar Chloé-isms, like the particular shade of creamy peach associated with the brand since Karl Lagerfeld’s days, here she used them a lot: the show ended with a pair of long, graceful pleated dresses in the color. Micro-floral-print frocks were styled unbuttoned and worn over a silk bra and trousers – the look had a romantic, vintage feel. Making things simpler really works from time to time.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Shanghai. Chloé Resort 2020

The problem with resort collections presented in far-fetched destinations apply to nearly all, from Louis Vuitton’s presentation in New York to Saint Laurent’s menswear show in Malibu. The venue is spectacular; the audience is wowed; the clothes are, well, boring and far from amusing. Angelo Flaccavento, Italian fashion critic, grasps this perfectly: “these days, fashion is more about brand experience and storytelling than clothes, which most of the time are not as exciting as their packaging. The past month of traveling shows was a study in showmanship over clothes-making.” Natacha Ramsay-Levi‘s resort 2020 collection for Chloé was presented in Shanghai, specifically at Long Museum (at sunset). It’s clear the Chloé’s management has ambitions to make the brand stand in row with Dior and Prada. But does this match Chloé’s intimacy, so beloved by its clients? The entire event had to be quite an experience, that’s fur sure. However, the idea of a Chloé show in Shanghai, other than marketing, makes no much sense. Of course, the designer had some subtle references to the location. A lover of Chinese cinema, she had compiled backstage dozens of stills from her favorite movies by Jia Zhangke, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Zhang Yimou, Bi Gan and Lou Yi. Another film, Three Times by Hsiao-Hsien, informed Natacha’s decision to explore China’s rich history, drawing on its empirical eras, the Art Deco period, and its contemporary buzz. The designer’s nods to Chinese culture were conveyed in details: the side buttons on a floral dress that evoked a qipao for instance. Tiny embroideries were inspired by traditional Chinese handwork. Yet still, in general, this was one of the weakest collections coming from the designer, which is quite disturbing. It lacked a ‘look’. The clothes, put separately, with no styling, don’t spark much attention. For pre-collections, Chloé is really, really fine with look-books.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki

Classics. Chloé AW19

This was Natacha Ramsay-Levi‘s most commerce-wise collection for Chloé in her tenure at the house – and this isn’t a bad thing. The designer has already established such a solid set of her Chloé classics that it felt like the right moment to list them in one line-up. Some chic, breezy dresses in plaid; really good, masculine coats; a silk blouson tucked into a knee-lenght skirt; reworked denim; 70s inspired outerwear with shearling collars. All that styled with eclectic (even slightly ethnic) jewellery, always-in-demand riding boots and equally desirable handbags. Since her first season at the maison, Natacha holds close to her favourite colour palette that’s all about rust, beige, navy, and ecru. As I said, classics.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Confidence. Chloé Pre-Fall 2019

It’s clear Natacha Ramsay-Levi feels more and more confident with every season at Chloé – and that works. The designer continues to play with the label’s horse motif, as well as experiments with the monograms from the maison‘s archive. But there’s much more to it in her pre-fall 2019. You can see brilliant tailoring and outerwear. Dozens of whimsy, breezy dresses that are distinctly Chloé, but as well very Natacha – especially, when styled with heavy boots she adores so much and revisits each time. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the richness of textures, fabrics and prints. Take the ‘clashed’ floral dress worn over a turtleneck blouse or the velvet flares styled a parsley pussy-bow top and a corduroy, riding jacket. New bags are here, too. If one can’t really afford to plunge in Chloé, then at least the designer shares a number of truly inspiring tips on how to dress next autumn. It’s all about a Victorian-era inspired shirt, a splash of print kept in a warm colour palette and a pair of gorgeous, polished boots.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Woman. Chloé SS19

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Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s third runway season for Chloé was a lot different from the first two, but felt distinctly like her. That’s already a sign – this woman has her own, complex style that she develops and develops, without losing some sort of personal idiosyncrasy. For spring-summer 2019, the designer investigated her more eclectic aesthetic. Think breezy, summery feel with 70s prints, amulet jewels and flowy dresses. The collection had something nomadic about it, but Natacha escaped the clichés of boho style. Tie-dye t-shirts worn with fringed mini skirts looked festival-ready, while the scarf tops, pants and dresses looked light and easy. There were also rope belts; paisley patterns all over silk pantaloons; knitted pullovers worn over loosely fit, crotchet blousons. Ramsay-Levi respects Gaby Aghion’s (Chloé’s founder) liberated femininity that was never based on regular ‘prettiness’ or specific beauty canon. The current Chloé designer’s femininity is equally strong and multi-faceted. While others do princess dresses for the closing look, Natacha sent down a pleated, maxi-length gown suited for a Goddess (note that gorgeous collar and the Grecian bracelets). To sum up: the ready-to-wear is completely desirable, the accessories are on point. With this collection, Ramsay-Levi proves once again that she’s a skilled designer, who’s capable of creating a consistent, yet simultaneously exciting vision of the brand. This seems to be shockingly rare in the industry, especially when you browse the majority of this season’s line-ups. Bravo, Natacha!

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Consistently Exciting. Chloé Resort 2019

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Natacha Ramsay-Levi makes Chloé bloom, even if she’s not resorting to floral prints as her predecessors. I mean, her Chloé is so good. Her first seasons characterised with smart consistency which is capable of being exciting. And with each collection, Natacha seems to grow in confidence. For resort 2019, the designer continues to play with Chloé codes, like the horse print, but experiments more freely with volumes and styling. I love how that Victorian-sleeping-gown dress gets more badass with the knee-length leather boots. Ramsay-Levi does the Chloé flou, but she doesn’t fall into that dangerously naive, over-feminine trap. That woman isn’t here to be blown away by the wind in the middle of a field. It’s urban chic for self-aware, conscious females.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

New Sensuality. Chloé AW18

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The modernist architecture of Maison de la Radio anticipated Natacha Ramsay-Levi‘s  contemporary sensuality that the designer implements at Chloé. In her second season for the house, Natacha’s vision becomes even clearer and understandable. Chloé is no longer a label with flowing dresses for running around the fields. It’s a brand for women of profession, culture, life. Vintage lace, tiers of goat hair and knitted ruffles were beautifully combined with earth tones and subtle cuts. Ramsay-Levi’s femininity, however, clashes with something slightly more heavy: think boots with metalwork heels or chain necklaces made of gold pendants, coins and keys. While Chloé seems to be the most realistic and powerful collection of this Paris fashion week up to now, note it’s not a Phoebe Philo clichéd tribute collection. It’s impressive to see, how Natacha builds her own, idiosyncratic language for the females of today.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

At Home. Chloé Pre-Fall 2018

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If you ask Natacha Ramsay-Levi to define her own style, the answer won’t be as straightforward as you would expect from a designer.  “I admire people who have a uniform, but I’ve never found mine and I probably never will because I love fashion’s diversity,” she explained. Pre-fall 2018 is Natacha’s second collection for Chloé, a female-loving French maison, and it already feels that even if she doesn’t have an arbitrary ‘look’ that has to end up in the stores, she feels here like at home. And that’s good – thanks to that, the creative director’s work has a sense of easiness. What we discovered about Ramsay-Levi in her debut is that she has a soft point for jaw-dropping boots and whimsical jewellery (those pieces smoothly transit into the autumn days). Here, it’s a strong game of cognac leather coats, shirt-dresses and 70s blouses. Also, the designer wisely does the horse-rider style that’s distinctly Chloé, whether we’re speaking of the tiny horse prints on bags or wool capes. Although white socks tend to get on my nerves after 2017’s Vetements obsession, the way Natacha pulls them off in her refined pre-fall makes you wonder, whether luxe-y athleisure is back.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.