“Hippie modernism” is the term Natacha Ramsay-Levi, creative director of Chloé, used to describe her latest collection for the spring/summer 2019 season. The assemblage of flowy peasant blouses, floral and paisley prints and ‘70s-inspired accessories exemplified the long-established aesthetic of the typical Chloé woman. The looks’ carefree and youthful essence, however, clashed with the contemplative and existential nature of Chloé Radio, a podcast series consisting of 20-minute interviews between Augustin Trapenard, a Parisian cultural journalist, and six French women thought by Ramsay-Levi to embody the brand.
Trapenard sat with actresses Clémence Poésy, Ariane Labed and Isabelle Huppert, writer Leïla Slimaní, filmmaker Houda Benyamina and Ramsay-Levi herself, discussing the concepts of freedom, femininity and strength in relation to womanhood and fashion. Recurring questions such as, “What does it mean to be free?” and “Did you ever feel any limitations in being a woman?” revealed simultaneous feelings of courage and vulnerability in these seemingly self-assured women.
For example, Trapenard expressed his surprise at Huppert’s claim that she rarely feels confident despite having played a number of bold characters in some of France’s most controversial films. Most of the women asserted that to be free means to be completely in sync with one’s identity, but that they still face obstacles related to self-expression that come from working in male-dominated fields.
While the willingness to share one’s conflicting ideas of what it means to be a woman in current Western society is admirable, it feels disjointed in relation to the actual Chloé brand, which has become more and more solidified in its image with each fashion iseason, despite going through six creative directors in the past 20 years. This most recent collection voiced none of those insecurities, exhibiting a modern, jetsetting Chloé woman who knows exactly who she is and which crowd she belongs to. Furthermore, the usage of bright colors, stacked jewelry and music festival silhouettes, especially in the first half of the lineup, seemed to pertain to a younger muse, whereas the interviewees ranged in age from 34 to 65 years. The podcast’s mature feeling actually coincides more with Chloé under the creative direction of Clare Waight Keller, who managed to retain the brand’s youthfulness but offered a much more subdued look, fitting an older demographic as well.
Despite the disconnect between the podcast and collection’s respective vibes, one has to give props to Ramsay-Lenvi for even thinking of marketing the company through such an innovative medium; after all, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, according to Forbes. Ramsay-Levi came up with the idea as a way to pay homage to Radio France, the broadcaster she grew up listening to and still receives much of her news from today.
In addition to the podcast, the fashion show took place at Radio France’s headquarters, Maison de la Radio, on Sept. 27. The juxtaposition between the fashion show, a visual platform, and the audio-based form of the podcast was also interesting.
In the broad scope of fashion, Ramsay-Levi has proven herself a strategic businesswoman and, most importantly, a head designer dedicated to maintaining the aesthetic of one of the most successful brands in high fashion. And in a fast-paced climate where new creative directors are constantly trashing established brands’ defining characteristics in favor of their own sartorial preferences (yes, I’m referring to Hedi Slimane and Riccardo Tisci. Shade fully intended), that integrity is all we can really ask for.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | email@example.com