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.
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.
In fact, Natacha Ramsay-Levi is present in the French fashion for years, if you haven’t noticed: first she worked at Balenciaga with Nicolas Ghesquiere and after following the designer, landed a job at Louis Vuitton. But her new role of creative director at Chloé is the first time she’s in the solo spotlight. Succeeding Clare Waight Keller (the Givenchy debut is just around the corner), who kept Chloé in an eternal rhapsody of boho dresses for about six years, Ramsay-Levi also leads a brand previously designed by Karl Lagerfeld, Martine Sitbone, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Hannah McGibbon. That’s what you call an impressive line-up. However, the newly appointed designer’s debut was a nod to the Chloé founder, Gaby Aghion. As the show note stated, Natacha decided to stay true to “the independence and intellectual spirit of Gaby”, while embracing femininity and giving women an opportunity to show their inner strength through clothing. And the spring-summer 2018 collection was just that.
Don’t want to use clichés, but that what the designer did was the best possible version of contemporary Parisian chic. Structured mini-skirts, dresses of different lengths covered with prints by a Bombay / Barcelona based artist Rithika Merchant, a timeless camel coat, velvet suits in horse motif and celestial bright gowns. A mix of eclectic, well-curated pieces that resemble Natacha’s aestehtic sense – unconventional and intimate at the same time. The accessories were also très cool, from Chloé it-bags (slightly pimped up with heavy-chain handles and straps) to irresistibly good boots. In some moments, the collection felt like Louis Vuitton in the last few seasons – but that reflects Ramsay-Levi’s signatures that used to be hidden under the brand’s logo. The designer’s lesser known, whimsical side was definitely felt through the jewellery. One of the gold-plated necklaces looked like the prehistoric sculpture of Venus. Summing it all up – I already adore the Ramsay-Levi and Chloé affair!