Brief Biography of the Chloe Fashion House and Gaby Aghion April 19 2022

On September 27 of this year, Gaby Aghion passed away at age 93. To many, the name is unfamiliar; but to those in the fashion world, she was an important player. In 1952, you see, she founded a little company with Jacques Lenoir you may have heard of–a company called Chloé, the fashion house.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Gaby Aghion (real name Gabrielle Hanoka) was the daughter of a cigarette factory manager. Her mother reportedly employed a seamstress to make dresses styled after pictures and advertisements found in French magazines. Gaby and her husband Raymond, whom she had met when she was 7 and married when she was 19, moved to Paris in 1945. The two soon became pivotal players in the Left Bank cultural scene after World War II. It was in this time that Aghion decided she wanted to make her own money, so she bought lengths of cotton poplin fabric and made a small number of dresses—and so the fashion house, named after a friend, was born.

Aghion disliked the formality of 1950s fashion, and instead chose to design soft, feminine clothing for women out of fine fabrics. When she joined forces with Jacques Lenoir in 1952, she ran the creative side of the label, and he the business side. The label’s first show in 1956 took place at the Café de Flore, a notable gathering spot for writers which represented the cultural center of the young, intellectual Paris crowd of the 1940s and 50s. Chloé designs were ready to wear, affordable fashion, of the high end caliber. Her fashions were considered youthful, feminine, and—best of all–wearable. In 1959, Aghion passed the creative directorship of the company to Gerard Pipart; following him in that position in the years after were such powerhouse designers as Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney—then young designers just coming into their own. Lagerfeld was at the label for a considerable length of time (from 1964 to 1983, and from 1992-1997), so much so that his name was as synonymous with the Chloé fashion house as it is now with the Chanel house.

Karl Lagerfeld for CHLOE 1966 from the Met Collection

In 1985, Aghion sold her share in Chloé to Dunhill Holdings (now Ricehmont, a Swiss luxury goods conglomerate). Since 2011, Clare Waight Keller has been at the helm. Today, the company has expanded to include shoes and handbags (always a Chloé favorite), fragrances, accessories, swimwear, and childrenswear. The Chloé designs of today echo what Gaby Aghion emphasized when she first started the company sixty-something years ago—wearable, feminine, quality materials. We love the line—how about you?

Chloe Spring 2015