Today it was confirmed that Natacha Ramsay-Levi will be the new creative director of French fashion house Chloé. She will take over from Clare Waight Keller, who showed her final collection for the house earlier this month. Ramsay-Levi’s first collection for Chloé will be shown in September.
Rumours of Ramsay-Levi’s appointment have been circulating since Waight Keller announced her departure at the end of January.
Chloé was founded by Gaby Aghion in 1952, and is a brand best-known for its handbags, florals and floaty dresses. Waight Keller will be remembered for her ability to update Aghion’s wearable femininity to the 2010s. Her hits have included the £1,125 tracksuit, the ultra-frills of the current spring/summer collection, chic biker jackets and low-slung wide trousers. Waight Keller was a consistent commercial success for Chloé, with Richemont – the house’s parent company – reporting good sales growth in 2016 with both ready-to-wear and accessories selling well.
Ramsay-Levi has been schooled by the best. She is currently the second-in-command at Louis Vuitton, under Nicolas Ghesquière. With initial aspirations to be a historian, she moved into fashion after seeing Ghesquière’s work at Balenciaga. She has worked with the designer – widely seen as one of the most influential in the industry – for more than 10 years. Her role is widely understood to be communicating Ghesquière’s ideas to the wider team.
The appointment could lead to a different aesthetic for Chloé. The Ghesquière look is tough, street-lead, architectural and sometimes androgynous – not adjectives that are traditionally part of the Chloé lexicon. In her statement, Ramsay-Levi said: “I want to create fashion that enhances the personality of the woman who wears it, fashion that creates a character and an attitude, without ever imposing a ‘look’.”
While the potential departure from the traditional Chloé aesthetic could be seen as a risk for the house, it could also reap some rewards. Chloé president Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye would no doubt have observed the Gucci phenomenon: the Italian brand appointed unknown Alessandro Michele in 2015. It has seen sales skyrocket with the designer’s new geek-chic look. In the last quarter of 2016, revenue grew by 21%.
Beyond her work with Ghesquière, Ramsay-Levi looks set to succeed just like Michele. Central to the Parisian creative scene, she has 10,000 followers on Instagram, and posts images of artwork by Carsten Höller and William Eggleston, suggesting a wide range of reference points. Her last post is an image of her with the caption: “I am very honoured and happy to be appointed creative director of Chloé this morning. Can’t wait to start!”
In a statement, de la Bourdonnaye said he was “particularly happy to welcome Natacha to Chloé … her creative vision will further expand the Maison in Gaby Aghion’s vision at the intersection of Parisian couture savoir-faire and the youthful attitude of the Chloé girl.”
Ramsay-Levi follows a roster of names to design for the house – Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Martine Sitbon and Karl Lagerfeld have previously held the role.