March 08, 2010 Paris
From the outset, she whittled the look down to its clearest components: a long-sleeved silk blouse and high-waist flared trousers, and the bouncy, blown-out Charlie girl hair that captures the seventies American sportswear attitude this trend is all about. Next up, MacGibbon introduced knitwear, classic menswear overcoats, and an early-Armani-like jacket that might have jumped out of Vogue's pages in the post-women's lib era—when dashing to work while looking enthusiastically businesslike was the thing.
It's a feeling, of course, that MacGibbon shares with her British female designer peers Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney, who both passed through the Chloé studio some while back. They left the label with a reputation for girly dressing, jingly-jangly It bags, and statement shoes, but now that they're all into their thirties, these young professionals are leading a different life.
MacGibbon's house-cleaning instinct has thrown out the all the frills, prints, funny bags, and chunky clogs and platform shoes that last made Chloé hot. The bags have been stripped of hardware and logos, and the footwear renovated as sidewalk-friendly caramel riding boots and springy-soled wedges. The flirty, blowy dresses, once the Chloé signature, have been axed. The hip-girl, slightly streetwise element that used to be part of the personality here was this season reduced to a mild play on western styling—a minor outbreak of leather fringing and one pair of velvet, gold-embroidered jeans that turned up in the second half.
In terms of brand differentiation, though, that leaves a conundrum for buyers. Chloé's offering for Fall puts the label in direct competition with what so many others are producing now. It left some puzzlement over whether leaving the house's youth behind is such a wise move.