“I will show your lordship what a woman can do.” – Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 — c. 1656)
For the Chloé Autumn-Winter 2023 show (AW23), Creative Director Gabriela Hearst explores the imperative need for women’s stories and their contributions to society—too often overlooked or suppressed—to be brought out of the shadows so they can play a leading role in the race to find climate solutions. Inspired by 17th-century Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who overcame a range of societal and personal struggles to emerge as one of the most celebrated female artists of her time, the AW23 collection forms the third chapter in Gabriela’s exploration of climate success and the urgent need to champion women as leaders. Although climate change impacts everyone, as gender inequalities continue to persist around the world, women and girls are disproportionately affected.
In the AW23 collection, the Book of Esther is transposed onto dresses and bags as a graphic, multicoloured, tapestry—the work of the Mumbai-based Chanakya International embroidery studio, which through its craft school provides women from low-income communities with a high-quality education in hand embroidery. The Book of Esther is also reinterpreted in black and brown contrast embroideries on a leather skirt and matching jacket. Renaissance-inspired silhouettes, innovative fabrications and unexpected materials reflect the feminine power of Artemisia’s paintings and her steely conviction.
A puffer cape coat with ruching along the seams is made from recycled nylon. An off-the-shoulder dress cut above the knee with bishop sleeves is cut from Nappa leather—a modernist, graphic take on the Renaissance. The use of black and white contrasting fabrics accentuates the heart-shaped waists and high necklines of dresses, imbuing these historic references with a contemporary aesthetic. Lower-impact wool gauze—a Chloé pillar fabric—delivers a subtle statement of feminine power with its ethereal quality and is used in a range of garments including capes and long dresses. Renaissance architecture inspired a multitude of fabrications that demonstrate the Maison’s savoir-faire. A dégradé pattern of black satin diamonds is hand- appliquéd onto wool. A graphic material made from thin strips of black, white and yellow fabric is sewn together by our partners Akanjo and is used for coats. Trousers are assiduously constructed from intricate lattice formations of hand- inserted leather braids and pintucks.
The boundaries of fabric development has been explored. New lace techniques have been developed for a figure-hugging dress to give it stretch and ease for the active woman. An oversized cape dress is knitted from a cashmere and silk ‘faux fur’. The panelling of dresses with horizontal and vertical lines is based on crinoline pattern pieces but engineered on the knitting machine to introduce a sense of Chloé flou and femininity into the knitwear.