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.