Jacques Lenoir and Gaby Aghion envisioned a deluxe, ready-to-wear house which would epitomize modern, wearable femininity when they opened Chloe in 1952. The timing was perfect; five years after the introduction of the constrictive, corseted New Look, more functional clothing was part of the future of fashion. Throughout its history, femininity has been the unchanging factor in Chloe's identity.
Although Chloe has hosted several designers over its lifetime, its most prominent designer was Karl Lagerfeld. He joined the house in 1963 as one of four designers. By the early 1970s he overcame Graziella Fontana, the last of the other three designers, to become chief designer.
Lagerfeld's designs brought the house to its peak of popularity and influence during the late 1960s and 1970s. He designed upscale versions of hippie clothes. His swirling gypsy slip dresses, skirts, and blouses gained immediate devotees. Although he left the house in 1983, when he returned in 1992 he resumed where he had left off. His updated, hippie-inspired slip dresses crafted from nostalgic 1970s prints were immensely popular during the flower-child resurgence of the early 1990s. He stopped designing for the house in 1997.
When Martine Sitbon began designing for Chloe in 1987 she took the house in a new direction by focusing on feminizing masculine tailored suits. She transformed the suits by adding delicate chiffon and silks as blouses, pants, and skirts. Her frilled collars and low-cut necklines emphasized the bust. In 1991 she left the house to create her own line.
In 1997 Stella McCartney, Paul McCartney's daughter, took over the designing helm. She trained at Central St. Martin, Savile Row, and Chris tian LaCroix before starting her own line, and she gave up that line to design for Chloe. Her first lines added romantic touches, including antique lace and glass buttons, to modern tailoring.
The house has entered into few licensing agreements, concentrating on the successful fragrances Chloe and Narcisse. Dunhill Holdings PLC acquired Chloe in 1985. Vendome, the luxury conglomerate which also owns Cartier, Mont Blanc, Alfred Dunhill, and Piaget, purchased the company in 1993. See also: Karl Lagerfeld; Christian Lacroix.
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