“I see myself as a link in the chain.” Gabriela Hearst spoke these words—an affirmation of her position in the long succession of women designers at Chloé—a couple of days before her celebratory farewell at the house. That occasion, which concluded with Gabriela leading the dancing, with models, amongst the Mangueira Samba school of Brazil is already part of Chloé’s history.
She had a lot to be happy about—starting with the clothes. Three years ago, when Hearst joined as creative director—right in the middle of the pandemic—few would’ve believed she could make ‘sustainable’ fashion look and feel as sophisticated as her flower-inspired spring collection. “It came from drawings I was doing back in January—poppies, orchids, calla lilies,” she said, of the dresses made from spiraling ruffled knit, draped suede the color of marguerite, and the metal-work frills holding up the shoulderlines of a couple of linen party dresses.
As well as celebrating nature, her imprint on the other side of Chloé’s brand repertoire—the tailoring—was to style it as a sort of “cowboy-cowgirl” Uruguayan self-portrait, in coats with metal-tipped lapels, bandana lasso embroidery, leather pants, and western boots. “It’s like the sheriff’s in town,” she joked. “That’s really me!”
Hearst can also be deservedly proud of her leadership as Chloé’s sheriff of sustainability. During her tenure, it became the first luxury house to achieve B-Corp certification. She made the knitted suede and recycled mesh Nama sneaker, with its distinctively crafty blanket-stitching a commercial hit. At every possible opportunity, she’s spoken about ethical action and progressive science-based solutions to the climate emergency. “I’m proud that when I came to Chloé, there was one person in sustainability. Now it’s a department of 12. I’m proud that with this collection, the workmanship is so amazing—and the fabrics in the wovens are 70% low-impact and in the knitwear 80%.”
Outgoing, she ended with a typically educational, optimistic flourish. “We need clean abundant energy. I did a show which spoke about (nuclear) fusion a year ago—and in that one year there’ve been a lot of advances, and a major breakthrough last December. It’s going to save our asses, and it’s closer than we think.” And then, it was on with the dancing.
This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.