Chloé Alphabet - G / Gaby Aghion

Uploaded by chloe on 26.09.2012

I was born in 1921 in Egypt. I received a high-society French education
through which I learnt of the elegance Parisian women.
What I have in my eyes is something that I was born with
Egypt is a colour for me. The sand is the most beautiful sand I have ever seen.
a rose-tinted beige. It feels like silk in your hands.
I grew up in a wealthy and intellectual family and our house was full of books.
My mother was passionate about fashion and a seamstress would come to our house
and make clothes for the family inspired by illustrations from French fashion magazines.
When I was a young girl, there was a little boy, Raymond, who came from a rich family.
We travelled together on the bus to school. We fell in love and married young in 1940.
When I went to Paris for the first time it was just before the war,
and I thought the French had something special:
I had never seen such elegance in my life. For me, fashion was France.
I used to buy all the French fashion journals and would take cuttings
from them of the fashions I liked.
One day, I told my husband that I didn't want to live off his money --
I had to earn my own. I wanted to make a few dresses -- in my style - and show them.
"Classic and simple: that's Gaby Aghion"... So I thought:
"This is the fashion I will do".
I liked sport and the beach and didn't like heavy things,
so I went and bought a light-weight cotton poplin and made six dresses.
At the time, I was surrounded by my intellectual friends.
It amused them that I believed in all of this.
"We give it two week before she gives up" they said.
But I soundly believed and held on.
I decided on a name as I couldn't use my family name
my family, out of snobbery, was already talking of how "Gaby was working".
People told me that because I had money, I shouldn't work.
I had a friend whose name I loved: Chloé.
So I asked her if I could borrow her name. She said yes.
I approached boutiques where I used to shop myself.
They wanted to change my new Chloé label for their own -
at the time it was the norm for these boutiques to place their own label on the clothes they sold -
but I had the sass to request that the Chloé label remain.
When they received my dresses, they sold out almost immediately.
My friends and I - mostly artists, writers, thinkers - we were all leftists
spent a lot of time on the Left Bank, in the cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
I asked the owner of the de Flore, if I could present my collection at the café, over breakfast.
This was completely new in 1956 and the press was delighted.
In the early days of Chloé, I had no office - everything happened at my house:
Sometimes in that sitting room, there were five or six seamstresses and designers at the same time -
it was hell, but we were young and full of passion.
It was the end of the war and this was fun for us.
Soon, a young German man, Karl Lagerfeld, arrived.
I was a little reluctant to hire him, thinking Germans had questionable taste!
I went on to love Karl and form a special working relationship with him that lasted over 2 decades.
I loved his cleverness -- he was cultivated and an art lover too -- but also his work ethic:
other designers would bring me two designs, Karl would bring me 20 within a day!
I am an intellectul - even a little pretentious.
I didn't like numbers at all so named the collections and garments, with an intellectual approach:
at first, there was a theme to my names such as painters and town names.
Soon I named each collection after a letter, with similarly high cultured names
within each, inspired by poets, composers, literary characters but also popular culture.
Fashion became something very important to me,
because I wanted to make something of my own.
When you are successful at something it makes you very happy:
not because it brings you more money, but because you are proud of it.
At the age of 92, if I had my time again, would I do anything differently?
Not a thing.