Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Newly-Anointed Creative Director Chemena Kamali Brings Chloé Down to Earth

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On a gray and crisp day in Paris this morning, newly-named creative director Chemena Kamali debuted her first collection for Chloé. From the first look, one thing was clear: Kamali’s approach to the house is one that revolves around real-world dressing with a cool air of personal style. Think: a little black leather capelet draped over a white frilly dress with a chunky gold necklace, or a parade of sheer cascading dresses styled with sturdy knee-high boots and structured shorts underneath. Jeans came baggy and loose, and shoulder satchels practical and oversized. To put things in simple terms, Chloé’s winter 2024 show debuted as a wearable collection that felt like an elevated version of what you might see on the streets, without a loss of identity or personality. Rather, Kamali’s Chloé offers a sense of free-spirited liberation that distills down the methodology of dressing solely for oneself. Call it the female gaze if you want.

For the unfamiliar, Chloé was founded in 1952 by Egyptian-born Gaby Aghion, who put a focus on youthful, bohemian-inspired clothing with high-quality standards and an element of casualness. And perhaps one of the reasons why the new Chloé felt intrinsically true to the core nature of the brand is due to how closely Kamali has worked with it in the past. Over the last 20 years, the designer has worked directly with Chloé creative directors Phoebe Philo, Hannah MacGibbon, and Claire Waight Keller, before joining Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent in 2016, and now coming full circle back to Chloé, where she actually began her career as an intern.

chloe winter 2024 collection

Alessandro Visero / Gorunway.com

Logo belts at Chloé fall/winter 2024.

If the low-slung gold nameplate belts that spelled out “Chloé” felt nostalgic, it was all intentional. Add the airy little slip dresses and ruffled tops that were paired with flared trousers to the mix for an aesthetic that felt like a high-fashion revamp of mid-2000s hipster culture; somehow like what a 2024 version of Serena van der Woodsen from the original Gossip Girl would wear today.

The early to mid-aughts, was, after all, one of Kamali’s reference points for the collection. “I want to bring back the feeling I had when I first stepped through the doors here 20 years ago and fell in love with the Chloé woman’s spirit,” she wrote in the show notes. “I want to feel her presence again; her beat, her natural beauty, her sense of freedom and undone-ness. The glow, the radiance and the energy of that girl. She is real. She is herself. For me dressing is a part of self-discovery: how we evolve as women in different stages of our life; how we continue to define and embrace who we are.” Still, in a collection so centered on the lives of women and perceived reality and realness of women, there were no size diverse models—something that could have made the collection feel truly empowering for so many women today.

a person walking on a runway

Courtesy of Chloé

A look from Chloé winter 2024.

Also on Kamali’s mood board? The 1970s and the juxtaposition of hard and soft. Take, for example, the leather trousers with fringe sides, which had been reworked with balloons of chiffon below the knee. Likewise, a heavy black leather duster coat was teamed with a gossamer-sheer nude dress. Kamali said her goal was “to embrace and capture the Chloé woman’s essence, and all the contradictions she embodies. This is what defines the Chloé attitude. I want to honor the forward-thinking spirit that Gaby Aghion pioneered when she founded the house more than 70 years ago. She wanted to liberate women and empower them to be daring and feel free.” The designer ended the show with a final walk in which she hugged her son, and she also dedicated the collection to her father in the show notes.

chemena kamali

Courtesy of Chloé

Creative director Chemena Kamali takes her final bow.

Toeing the line between cool and down-to-earth realness will always be one of the ultimate challenges in fashion. But at least at the new Chloé, Kamali is doing a great job of balancing those two forces at once, which are so often separated as church and state. The message here? Be comfortable, mix and match the unexpected, and try new things, but most of all: It-girl energy is contagious.

Chloé Winter 2024

chloé winter 2024 collection

Headshot of Kristen Bateman

Kristen Bateman is a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar. Her first fashion article was published in Vogue Italia during her junior year of high school. Since then, she has interned and contributed to WWD, Glamour, Lucky, i-D, Marie Claire and more. She created and writes the #ChicEats column and covers fashion and culture for Bazaar. When not writing, she follows the latest runway collections, dyes her hair to match her mood, and practices her Italian in hopes of scoring 90% off Prada at the Tuscan outlets. She loves vintage shopping, dessert and cats.

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