Gaby Aghion may not be a household fashion name but the legacy she’s left behind is. The fashion world poured in their tributes this week for the Chloé founder who died at the age of 93 last weekend. Chloé’s spring/summer 15 show went ahead the day following Gaby’s death at her wishes. Among her dying wishes were that her death didn’t detract from the show, although, respectfully, it was dedicated to her memory.
She was a pioneer of ready-to-wear when she launched her label in 1952 and designed every piece so that it required little or preferably no tailoring. Her vision of feminine, easy-to-wear pieces in luxurious fabrics still runs through the brand today. Although Gaby sold all her shares in the company in 1985 she was always at the shows and continued her role as ‘parent’ of the brand on an informal basis until the end.
Chloé was also a unique brand at the time for not being named after the founder. Instead she picked a name which she felt reflected the mood of the label – warm with a feminine appeal – and of Paris at the time; youthful and modern in design and slightly audacious in spirit.
Pioneering new talent for the label, Gaby and her business partner Jacques Lenoir hire an up-and-coming Karl Lagerfeld as Head Designer. His work attracted a huge celebrity following in the 1970s from Jackie Kennedy to Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas and Grace Kelly. With each successor the label has continued to grow in status with a number of female British designers taking the helm in more recent years including Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Hannah MacGibbon and Clare Waight-Keller who is currently Creative Director.
Some of the most iconic vintage Chloé pieces include the soft, flowing blouse with satin cuffs first introduced in 1960 and recurring time and time again, the ‘Embrun’ shirt dress (1960) with silk twill collar and waist tie, the leaf motif maxi evening dress with braces for straps in 1978, the ‘Violin’ dress from 1983 with a pearl and gold thread violin motif, tracing the female curves and the ‘Éventail’ bag, a black goat suede clutch with embroidered silver fan shape on the closure (1979).