Soft or sharp? A new direction for Chloé as designers change

Chloe and Louis Vuitton

Two contrasting styles: the softness of Clare Waight Keller’s Chloe and the strength of Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Louis Vuitton

It looks like it really will be all-change at Chloé as Clare Waight Keller focuses on a better work-life balance and steps down while Louis Vuitton’s hugely respected Natacha Ramsay-Levi steps up to the role after a lot of years spent working for Nicolas Ghesquiere.

What does that actually mean in practice? Well Chloé’s current design chief is known for a soft, almost-boho style that’s low-key luxe, even romantic, and based on natural fibres like silk. Ramsay-Levi meanwhile is known for a harder-edged approach with leather and synthetics, a modernist approach and much more aggressively defined silhouettes.

So that’ll be interesting. Not that anyone has confirmed it yet. Everyone linked to the move is staying tight-lipped but the industry seems to think it will happen.

There’s a brand with estimated sales of €400m at stake so is Clare Waight Keller being given the (luxury) boot? It seems not. She has three kids and a long commute (London to Paris) and wants to get some sanity back into her life. And presumably after having been an undeniable critical success at Chloé, she see plenty of opportunity back in her home country.

Natacha Ramsay-Levi meanwhile appears to be moving at much the same time as the Vuitton rumour mill is in overdrive. Talk is continuing that Ghesquiere won’t be at the label for too long and might start his own label. Ramsay-Levi has been a Key part of his team for a long time, first at Balenciaga and then at Vuitton and insiders said she made a bigger impact on the actual collections than the man whose name went on them.

It reminds me of Tom Ford’s last few years at Gucci when Alessandra Facchinetti was a in charge of womenswear and her love of intricate (pleating, lacing, rushing et al) detail came through very clearly, moving Gucci away from the simpler looks that had helped revive it in the 1990s.

So we’ll have to wait and see just how much of a change Ramsay-Levi makes at Chloé. Her predecessor doesn’t leave until March so we at least have one more collection in the current style to look forward to in the coming Paris Fashion Week.

2 thoughts on “Soft or sharp? A new direction for Chloé as designers change

  1. Surprising news …….. Waight Keller seemed to find her fit at Chloe and certainly revived the house’s signature style to create some of the most covetable collections of recent seasons (despite astronomical price points). Not sure her replacement will work out quite as well. LV seems to have lost it’s way since Ghesquiere’s team took over — like with his tenure at Balenciaga, it’s all a bit try-too-hard and self consciously trying to be different when really all people buy are the bags. It’s all part and parcel of the current fashion merry-go-round where houses are chasing new identities without really knowing why other than they think they should.

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    • I know what you mea. I love what Chloe does at the moment and haven’t been quite so mad on Vuitton lately. But it’ll be interesting to see what she does when out of Ghesquiere’s shadow. Plus I can understand Waight Keller stepping down as that commute must be a killer when you’ve got three kids.

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