The Chloé fashion house was established in 1952 by Gaby Aghion with the goal of offering high-quality, ready-to-wear clothing (what Aghion called “luxury prêt-à-porter”) to the masses. This was a revolutionary concept for the fashion world at the time, which only offered haute couture, or cut-to-fit clothing, that was only accessible to the few elite who could afford it. In 1953, Jacques Lenoir joined Aghion in running the fashion house. From the start, the brand was known for its simple, feminine designs made of fluid fabrics in lively colors. The brand’s first collection was debuted in 1956 at Le Café de Flore, a well-known watering hole for the Parisian artists of the time. It was also around this time that Aghion and Lenoir brought young designers on board to add their own visions to the Chloé brand, keeping the designs contemporary.
The Chloé brand entered the 1960s with its finger on the pulse of the fashion world, incorporating a more futuristic, “science fiction” trend, which utilized bold colors and geometric shapes. By 1966, Karl Lagerfeld had joined Chloé as the brand’s main designer, and would establish the brand as a forerunner in the fashion world by the 1970s. The success of the brand was further reflected by its high-end clientele, a list that included Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot, and Grace Kelly. Popular Chloe designs that characterized these boon years of the brand included gypsy blouses, skirts, and slip dresses.
Karl Lagerfeld left Chloe in 1983 and in 1987 Martine Sitbon joined the company as its primary designer. Sitbon’s designs took the brand in a new direction, with creations that included women’s tailored suits that maintained a feminine flare by being paired with billowy chiffon blouses with frilled collars. Sitbon would continue designing for the brand until 1991. A year later, Karl Lagerfeld returned to the Chloé house, further enlivening the Chloe clothing lines with a throw-back to the “flower child” look of the 1970s, using slip dresses and long string bead necklaces—a look that was received eagerly by the fashion world. In 1997, Lagerfeld would again leave Chloé and Stella McCartney would replace him, creating designs that were all at once girlishly feminine and sensual. This bold fashion move by McCartney opened the market to attract younger women to the brand. In 2001, McCartney’s assistant Phoebe Philo would replace her in heading the fashion house.
Today Chloé has stores all over the world, including its headquarters in New York and boutiques in Beijing, Munich, Beirut, London, and Seoul. Celebrities like Madonna, Emma Stone, Katie Homes, and Maggie Gyllenhaal have all been seen sporting Chloé fashions. Known at first for its clothing lines, the brand expanded in the early 2000’s when it launched a line of Chloé handbags (including the popular Paddington bag), wallets, and shoes.