Over the weekend, Natacha Ramsay-Levi announced her departure from Chloé after four years of helming the brand as creative director. Ramsay-Levi’s tenure was defined by an intellectual approach to design that screamed Parisian cool. So cool, in fact, that some wondered if the critically-applauded collections failed to cut through commercially—Ramsay-Levi insisted she chose to resign on her own, but the fickle world of fashion often means that designers whose collections don’t sell are quickly shown the door.
Those concerned that Natacha’s departure was a cynical display of fashion’s relentless hamster wheel, however, will be thrilled with her replacement. The Uruguayan designer Gabriela Hearst’s appointment was announced by Chloé’s parent company, Richemont, yesterday afternoon—in a move that many will see as a boon for sustainable fashion. “I am excited for the opportunity to work under the leadership of Riccardo Bellini and support him in his commitment to creating a business that is socially conscious and in balance with our environment,” Hearst said in a post published on Instagram. “I am also humbled to be able to work with the Chloé team to help execute this beautiful vision in creative and accountable ways.”
For those unfamiliar with her work, Hearst has long been a disciple of sustainable, ethically-produced fashion—even when it wasn’t a mainstream conversation in the industry. In 2019 she staged the industry’s first-ever carbon neutral show (brands like Gucci and Burberry followed suit), while her collections are made using recycled cashmere yarn, upcycled deadstock, and eco-friendly leathers, linens, and cottons. “My design effort is to build something beautiful that is well-crafted using the right materials that you’re excited about from a design point of view, but that you’ll also have your whole life,” she has said in the past.
Celebrity fans quickly flocked to her minimal, craft-inspired pieces (Hearst grew up on a family ranch in Uruguay, an aesthetic that continues to discretely influence her designs), including but not limited to Meghan Markle, Brie Larson, Oprah Winfrey, and Anne Hathway. Her ‘Nina’ bag still accrues giant waitlists, despite its sizable $3,000 pricetag. In 2018, she dressed Uma Thurman for the Met Gala.
Hearst’s commitment to sustainability is uncompromising, which makes it particularly exciting that she’s nabbed a role at one of the most storied maisons in the fashion industry. While sustainable practices are an industry buzzword right now, the actionable efforts laid out by brands have been frustratingly vague. Hearst is likely to overhaul Chloé’s business practices from the inside out, paving the way for a whole new generation of high-end designers to follow suit. For those desperately wanting to see tangible change in the fashion industry on the topic of climate, celebration is in order.