Chloé Confirms Exit of Clare Waight Keller

Clare Waight Keller will leave Chloé after showing her fall-winter collection for the Paris-based fashion house on March 2, the company said today.

WWD first reported on Dec. 15 that Chloé had held discussions with Natacha Ramsay-Levi, a key associate of Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton. Since then, speculation had been rife that Waight Keller would not renew her contract, which officially expires on March 31.

Ramsay-Levi started her fashion career at Balenciaga in 2002 and rose through the design ranks to become Ghesquière’s top design deputy. When the Frenchman exited Balenciaga in 2013, she went on to consult for several brands, including Hermès and Acne Studios, before rejoining Ghesquière at Vuitton, according to a Paris source. Chloé would not comment on the likelihood of her appointment.

Waight Keller, an alum of Pringle of Scotland and Gucci, joined Chloé in 2011 and has brought a sure and steady hand to the house, rejuvenating its ready-to-wear and accessories business and winning largely positive reviews for her collections.

Chloé plans to celebrate the designer, who followed in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo, with an after-party on the evening of her last show.

“Clare has been a remarkable partner at Chloé over the past six years. She helped rejuvenate the legacy of Gaby Aghion, the first ever Chloé girl, by infusing a cool and easy breeze into the Chloé wardrobe, effortlessly mixing graceful and feminine ‘flou’ with a free-wheeling and boyish take on tailoring,” Chloé chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye said in a statement.

“Clare has a unique talent in directing a large studio of strong creatives. I would like to personally thank Clare for her loyalty and dedication to Chloé,” he added.

Waight Keller served as senior women’s designer at Gucci during the Tom Ford era, and has also worked at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. She spent six years at Pringle before moving to Paris to helm Chloé, where she succeeded Hannah MacGibbon.

“After six extraordinary years at Chloé, I would like to thank Geoffroy and all my colleagues for their enormous efforts over the past years,” the designer said. “Working for this Maison has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Chloé is a brand with values close to my heart, and I have truly enjoyed working with some of the best talents in the industry. I feel privileged to have worked for a Maison with such a heritage, and I am very proud of all that has been achieved.”

At the time of Waight Keller’s hire, de la Bourdonnaye touted her as a seasoned talent with the creative, commercial and communication skills to manage a large studio. The designer, who has three children, recently moved back to her native England for personal reasons, sources said.

A calm, soft-spoken woman with a ready smile, Waight Keller personifies the Chloé spirit with her long wavy hair and penchant for such Seventies-tinged styles as wide jeans, smock tops and shoulder bags.

In its interim report for the six months ended Sept. 30, parent Compagnie Financière Richemont reported “good sales growth” at Chloé, without breaking down financials for any individual brands. “After the spring 2015 collection was hailed as a turning point, this year has confirmed Chloé’s momentum,” de la Bourdonnaye wrote in the report. “Clare Waight Keller’s collections continue to receive both critical and commercial acclaim. The ready-to-wear and bags categories performed well, the Drew bag playing a key role in the bags revival.”

Robust jewelry sales and stronger demand in Europe and Mainland China helped Compagnie Financière Richemont outstrip analysts’ projections and post a 5.7 percent uptick in third-quarter sales to 3.09 billion euros, or $3.34 billion.

Parent of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, Richemont is best known for its specialist watchmakers such as IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre, along with fashion maisons including Dunhill and Azzedine Alaïa.

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