After months of speculation, Chloé said its creative director, Gabriela Hearst, was leaving the French fashion house after a three-year tenure.
A statement released on Thursday confirmed that the women’s wear collection scheduled to be shown Sept. 28 during Paris Fashion Week would be her last for the brand.
Why It Matters: Chloé was vying to become a beacon of sustainable fashion
Ms. Hearst, a Uruguay-born designer of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, founded her namesake luxury label in New York in 2015 before joining Chloé in December 2020. Chloé is one of the few fashion houses owned by the luxury goods group Richemont, which historically has focused its primary growth ambitions on its jewelry brands like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, but lately has been investing in its fashion labels, which include Alaïa.
To many observers the combination of Ms. Hearst and Chloé appeared to be a savvy match. The designer has long been a champion of improving transparency and sustainability standards in the industry. And in 2021, Chloé announced it was the first luxury fashion house to obtain B Corp certification, which ranks how a company is trying to operate for social good as well as trying to make money. The world’s wealthiest shoppers, it seemed, were acquiring a taste for ethical fashion at eye-watering prices. The knitted suede and recycled mesh Nama sneaker was a best seller and, according to its chief executive, Riccardo Bellini, the brand saw a 60 percent sales increase in the last two years.
But rumors throughout 2023 indicated that Ms. Hearst and Chloé might part ways, in part because of pressures placed on the designer by her trans-Atlantic schedule. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Hearst continued to run her New York-based business while leading the Chloé design studio in Paris.
Background: Industry wide designer upheaval
Ms. Hearst’s exit comes in the wake of departures by many creative directors at all stages in their careers: Jeremy Scott from Moschino, Tom Ford from Tom Ford, Rhuigi Villaseñor from Bally and Ludovic de Saint Sernin from Ann Demeulemeester.
Most exits have their own specific triggers. But collectively they underscore the quickening churn among creative directors at fashion brands, as impatient executives press for starry sales growth on highly ambitious design and production timelines and to an evermore fickle consumer.
What’s Next: A successor seems to be waiting in the wings
In June, there were reports that Chemena Kamali, a onetime women’s design director for Saint Laurent and most recently a creative consultant at the contemporary line Frame, had been tapped as Ms. Hearst’s successor. According to the reports, Ms. Kamali — who also worked for a time at Chloé under Clare Waight Keller — was already running a parallel studio at Chloé as part of her preparations to take over the role.
Chloé declined to comment on when a successor to Ms. Hearst would be announced.
“It has been the greatest privilege to share my creative vision and to add my voice to the story of Chloé,” Ms. Hearst said in the statement Thursday. “I am grateful to have been part of the incredible team laying strong foundations for a purpose-driven future for fashion.”
Whether the house will maintain its recent expensive investments into leading the industry on designing, producing and selling responsible fashion — or take a new direction — remains to be seen.