Gaby Aghion founded Chloe in 1952 having moved to Paris in 1945. She was born in 1921 in Alexandria, Egypt.
Aghion is credited with the creation of the term prêt-à-porter – ‘ready to wear’.
Prior to Chloé’s launch, luxury fashion houses only ever produced Haute Couture or ‘made-to-measure’ clothing. This was fine for those who could afford it, but it left everyone else with poorly-made copies or nothing fashionable at all.
Sensing a gap in the market, Aghion decided to create a line of clothes from fine fabrics, which she called ‘luxury prêt-à-porter’ and thus, the Prêt-à-Porter market as we know it today was born.
The couturiers quickly followed suit. The first being Givenchy with their 1956 Ready-to-Wear collection ‘Givenchy University’. Today, designer ready-to-wear clothing is available everywhere and heavily outsells couture.
In 1966. Karl Lagerfeld became Chloé’s main designer and Chloé went on to become one of the iconic brands of the 70’s with customers that included Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas and Grace Kelly.
In 1985 the company was acquired by the Richemont group.
In 1997 a new twist arrived to the fortunes of Chloe with the arrival of Stella McCartney.
McCartney was only 25 when she joined Chloe – and she had talent. When she finished Saint Martins school, the Richemont group seized its chance. McCartney was pushed into the position of artistic director, which she accepted under the condition that her accomplice and partner from school, Phoebe Philo, come with her. Thanks to McCartney, Chloé was lifted out of its ashes.
She reinterpreted the Chloé heritage, dusted off the old lace and added a new energy that was sexy and rock romantic. She took inspiration from her mother’s wardrobe, mixed vintage with modern cuts, introduced the low waist and relaxed the suit. The first collection was a success and the Parisian house came back to life. Sales took off.
In 2001, McCartney left to pursue other projects and left her position to her assistant, Phoebe Philo. Philo who went back to the label’s luxury roots and added her personal vision of femininity, sensual, serene and free. Her work was original and her sexy-yet-sensible approach to women’s clothing seduced Chloé’s clients.
She gradually succeeded in designing a new image, with pure, loose-fitting clothes. Her strength was to emphasize the connection with her clients and produce one collection after the next, collections that evolved from and were based on the ones before them. Thanks to her approach, Philo’s clients knew that even if they did not know what the next season held for them, they knew that it would suit them.