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Clare Waight Keller’s Chloé continues to grow in confidence. And so does her customer base: ask any buyer what’s performing well in store and Chloé comes high on the list. In the five years since taking on the deeply feminine house founded in 1952, Waight Keller’s gentle yet fashionable take on femininity has found a fervent set of fans, and her bags, just branded enough but still individual to look distinctive, are sell-outs every season.
For AW16 she sent her girl into the desert on a motorcycle, in the manner of Anne France Dautheville, the Frenchwoman who set out alone on two wheels from Paris to Asia in 1972, travelling through the Middle East and picking up all sorts of sartoria to pack into her panniers en route. Waight Keller had wanted to bring a tomboy element into her house codes, and her discovery of France Dautheville in her research must have seemed the perfect package: French, independent, daring, looked ludicrously good in clothes. Not even Marianne ‘Girl on a Motorcycle’ Faithfull could make such an apposite muse.
Models in retro biker leathers, “fleece” tops and embroidered georgette gowns walked a sandy desert-style catwalk. Waight Keller had flavoured the classic Chloé “flou” dresses with a “fleece” sweater, in quilted cottons and shearling, and tempered the flounce with narrow leathers, zipped biker trousers, chic all-in-ones and a fabulous retro-style safari jacket in caramel leather. The familiar kaftan had been made more rugged and hard wearing as a multicoloured hand-tufted “carpet cape” and embroideries had been roughed up with metal threads.
“I wanted it to be daring and adventurous,” said Waight Keller. “Boyish, but still in the romantic spirit of the house.” Vroom for everyone.