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Clare Waight Keller’s Grand But Grunge Finale at Chloé

 

How would you say farewell to an iconic brand after six years? Would you go backward through all the seasons and revisit your favorite looks; or would you go forward as you always have, trusting what your heart tells you is most beautiful, most meaningful, most immediate and right now?

News broke in January that Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller would be leaving the company. During her tenure, the Chloé girl has been a biker and a boho; she’s been sporty and tender. And she’s always had amazing bags. At the show this past Thursday, the crowd—all those real-life Chloé girls, including Solange—represented that interplay of boyish cool and sweeping, woke-up-like-this finery.

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chloe front row solange

Solange is a Chloé girl

But there on the runway was an entirely new iteration of the brand’s muse/loyal customer. As the fashion press has positively noted, Clare did not review her past. She stepped ahead. Her final collection was largely inspired by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, but it was also about freedom and liberation. We went into the showroom with Sahar Sokhandan and Lauren Zimmermann from the designer buying team to see how they’ll bring this grande-but-grunge finale back to you.

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“Clare is recognized for her fluid silhouettes and this iconic feminine, bohemian look,” Sahar says after we meet up on Avenue Percier. “Our customers really love that.” We discuss her favorites and catch up with where she’s at in the process, and then the Chloé team joins in to give us the scoop on Clare’s genre-hoping, mohair-and-lace point of view.

“The embroidery there is called ‘Dreamland,’” one of them tells me, pointing to a babydoll dress. “And that pattern there is ‘Wonderland.’” Like other designers this season, Clare layered in the idea of Utopia. A world where she’d like to be—where the ’40s, ’70s and ’90s intermix with spirited bow-neck tops and big, cozy textures.

Ultimately though, the collection belongs to the real world. The British-born designer has rich and varied expertise in knitwear and menswear—and it shows up in boyfriend cardigans and loose, sexy trousers, which are meant to be worn with lacy camisoles and blouses that the house calls “innocent.” Many of the looks are about going from work to weekend and working lunch to cocktails. If that doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, there’s a chance that something like that is what you’re aiming for.

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There’s a lot to take in—not just because it’s Clare’s last collection—so Sahar and Lauren do something pretty cool; they hold their cards. They complete part of the buy, but then say they’re going to hold off on the rest until they can confer with the men and women who work in our stores directly with our customers. Sahar says she is always thinking of them and their day-to-day interactions when she’s here in Paris buying; they’re the ones who know our customers best, she tells me. They know what women ask for and need.

Our team left the showroom with a fair amount of homework, but they’ll finish it very soon—probably late at night in a hotel room. It’s worth the extra effort though; heartfelt partings always are.

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EXPLORE: current-season Chloé | all designer collections

Go where we go, see what we see. Stay up to date with all our Fashion Week coverage and shop curated collections of our favorite designers at Nordstrom’s Fashion Week Central.

—Laura Cassidy

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