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Tiers and tracksuits at Chloé, where designer Clare Waight Keller had taken Gallagher-era Britpop athleisurewear and made it “ultra-sophisticated”. The suit — with its zipper top and stripes down the seam — had been rematerialised from flammable to silk-knit, while the “well hard” attitude had softened to an aura of “innocence”.
Innocence is a big theme this season, with designers talking about capturing a youthful sensibility and freedom. But after several years of womanly dressing and post-crash austerity, one wonders where the market is for such a young aesthetic? The answer may have been sitting opposite me: rows of Chinese clients head-to-toe in AW15 Chloé waistcoats and blouses and coats. The girlish Chloé look seems to be paying dividends in Asia.
SS16, however, was still a very western, grunge-era look, and one that conjured Chloé’s glory years under Stella McCartney. (The collection was dedicated to “Kate, Chloë, Cecilia, Corinne, Rosemary, Emma and Courtney” — for the early-1990s pin-ups: Moss, Sevigny, Chancellor, Day, Ferguson, Balfour and Love.)
Waight Keller insisted that her version of the 1990s — with its massive lace harem pants, dungarees, raw-edged denims and rainbow-shaded peasant smocks — weren’t festival in spirit, but these sweeping tasselled chiffon gowns were perfect for the Coachella set. Waight Keller said the youthful focus was simply in line with a new desire for “freshness” and an emphasis on the “international Chloé girl”.
Chloé’s girl has always been fresh. And sublimely pretty if a little insubstantial. I suspect this heightened mood has been led by the growth of Instagram, where, with the right marketing, brands can secure a billboard to the masses with minimal spending on advertising and just a few cult pieces of clothing. We’re as likely to see the clothes on our Instagram feeds, in the form of holiday snaps or pictures at festivals or at home (where the weather doesn’t affect one’s ability to roll around on the floor taking selfies), as we are in fashion magazines. The age of innocence it may be — but the filter’s strictly business.
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