This weekend in Paris, Chloe celebrated its 60th birthday with the opening of a retrospective exhibit called Chloé.ATTITUDES at the Palais de Tokyo. Fashion exhibitions are a dime a dozen these days, but even in the midst of a bustling cocktail party, this one was fun to take in.
Having only a sense of what Chloe looks like under the creative direction of ’70s-leaning minimalist cool girls–from Stella McCartney to to Phoebe Philo to Hannah MacGibbon to Clare Waight Keller–I was surprised to see how whimsical and how much of a sense of humor the label had under earlier designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Maxime de La Falaise. A white v-neck bathing suit with a pineapple on the crotch? Why not? A Schiaparelli-esque meta confection–a dress with a dress on a hanger embroidered onto it–made me giggle. Karl Lagerfeld designed it. Apparently Lagerfeld even made an appearance at the opening, stopping by to say hello to the maison’s founder, nonagenarian Gaby Aghion, but his white ponytail evaded me.
All total, the exhibit features 70 pieces from the Chloe archives, highlighting designs and campaign imagery from nine key designers from 1952 to today: founder Gaby Aghion, Gérard Pipart, Maxime de La Falaise, Karl Lagerfeld, Martine Sitbon, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Hannah MacGibbon and Clare Waight Keller. And a special shout out goes out to the exhibition’s hair artist Angelo Seminara, who livened up the typically drab fashion mannequins by creating elaborate hair pieces for each set of looks, sometimes intricately knotting mannequins’ hair together.
If you can’t make it to Paris to take in this exhibit (it runs through November 18), don’t fret: Chloe’s also just launched an interactive digital archive called the “Alphabet”–modeled after Aghion’s process for naming her collections in alphabetical order. So each letter on the site represents some facet of the label’s heritage (“H” for Horses, “L” for light and so on) and when you click on a letter you get a bit of history about the label accompanied by a video made by a buzzy fashion name or a gallery of archival images. It’s worth exploring.
Watch curator Judith Clark, designer Clare Waight Keller, Palais de Tokyo president Jean de Loisy and more discuss how the exhibit came together, and click through for photos from the archives and the exhibit: