Go Inside Chloé’s Must-Visit Exhibition in Paris

We got a preview of the space before it was open to the public.

By: Samantha Tse
Photography: Molly SJ Lowe

To kick off couture week in Paris, Chloé has unveiled its new space dedicated to year-round exhibitions and cultural events that will highlight the brand’s 65-year history and the ever-evolving narrative of the Chloé girl. Spanning over five floors in a stunning Haussmann-style building dating back to 1903, Maison Chloé will act as a space for archives, exhibitions, events and showrooms.

Located adjacent to the brand’s HQ in the picturesque 8th, Maison Chloé opened its doors with two exhibitions. There’s a permanent space in the mezzanine that is dedicated to the anthology of the Chloé girl, chronicling the brand’s heritage from its founder Gaby Aghion to the designers who succeeded her (including Phoebe Philo, Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and Clare Waight Keller), including new creative director, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, and their contributions to the brand. The exhibition draws from the label’s archives and included are original sketches, accessories such as handbags and jewelry, as well as a selection of garments from the designers who have helmed the brand.

The second exhibition is dedicated to the French photographer Guy Bourdin, whose work was often published in Vogue Paris. Many of the images from his print work featured pieces from Chloé’s ready-to-wear collection. These beautiful editorials, alongside Bourdin’s photographs serve as the basis for “Femininities—Guy Bourdin,” which exhibits over 100 exquisitely selected images paired with archival garments featured in the shoot. Bourdin’s work always invokes a sinister sexuality that isn’t often associated with the Chloé girl, but this new exhibition, spread over four floors, explores how these two seemingly different aesthetics can come together.

“I think one of the driving ideas behind opening this building is to encourage debate and so I think how better than to start with a photographer who is seemingly at odds with the codes of the house and to start to open what is both a provocation and a collaboration,” explained curator Judith Clark.

It was nothing short of surreal to see archival Chloé pieces in an imposing Belle Époque building that was once a hotel, alongside vintage Vogue editorial shoots and framed Bourdin prints. The space was restored a few years ago but has kept some of the original features such as ceiling molding, fireplaces and an impressive stairwell the snakes up and down the building with wrought-iron railings.

Click through the gallery below to check out the space and the two exhibitions at Maison Chloé. To plan your visit, see their website. The Maison is located at 28 rue de La Baume in Paris.

“Guy Bourdin photographed Chloé more than any other photographer, which is an association that astonishes most people because they don’t in any way associate the two aesthetics,” explained curator Judith Clark.

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

“The alphabet was very dear to Gaby Aghion, the founder of Chloé. She used to name her collections sequentially, so one season all the ensembles would start with A, the second B. It went around in circles so you can sometimes date a dress by the name on the sketch, which is a rather wonderful system.”

“K is for Karl Lagerfeld,” said Clark, pointing to this dress from the Anthology part of the exhibition. The German designer helmed the brand twice from 1963 to 1978 and again in 1992 to 1997.

“When looking at the vintage prints in the archives, we realized that there’s a huge margin between what other photographers took and Guy Bourdin. He was somebody who was key in disseminating images of Chloé pieces to certainly the readers of French Vogue.” Bourdin’s work was published mainly in French Vogue, but also other publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and in ad campaigns.

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

“The magazines are very much the kind of template that Guy Bourdin used. He was keen on the ephemeral nature. It’s very much about the size of the double-page spread but also what happened to the imagery within it. What happens to the image that you lose in the gutter of the magazine—the central bound section, and how the images are placed on the pages?”

“B is for banana that was on an invitation,” explained Clark.

“There are two archives in the building. There’s this archive, which is a performed archive, and there’s an archive on the fifth floor that is a working-study archive so there is also the working archive in the building.”

“It’s interactive in that you can pull open some of the cupboards within the archive. It’s open to so many discoveries. And there are ideas in there—I is for ideas and there will be an evolving and revolving program of commissions associated with the idea of the ideas that spring from the archive. It will continually refresh itself.”

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

“There are garments used in Guy Bourdain’s photographs.”

“One of the garments is trapped in-between the gallery walls. So we’re reminded of how controlled the photographer’s gaze is and the control asserted on the dress by the photographer’s eye.”

“The previous dress is featured on the female model to the left.”

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

“I’ve intentionally chosen images that are de-saturated but then re-introduce the color red in a strategic way.”

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space.

“Red was very important for Guy Bourdin; it’s a very key color so this floor looks at the Chloé archive and the curation of dress through a new set of eyes.”

“The light fixtures were designed by a Chloé team member and several pieces of the furniture are vintage dating back to the ’70s.”

“These dresses by Karl Lagerfeld in the early ’80s were not photographed by Guy Bourdin but you might associate them nevertheless with the shared sense of humor. The idea of something reversed, something back to front, something performed, something about surface—there are lots of things in these gowns that could be found in Guy Bourdin’s work.”

Inside Chloé’s new cultural space

“The top floor isn’t about Guy Bourdin photographing Chloé. It’s about attitudes that they might share. So there’s a kind of playfulness,” said Clark.

“The building dates back to 1903 and has retained many of its original features including the imposing stairwell and wrought iron railings.”

“Lastly, there’s a slideshow, which is about two girls together, which you associate so much with the Chloé girl. But here of course, for Guy Bourdin, it’s much more sexualized and there’s a hierarchy between the two women. It’s a bookend about the Chloé girls downstairs. One wonders about the enigma of women’s interior worlds.”

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