There are invisible barriers in fashion, many of them the reasons why most of the big jobs are held by white men: Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones at Fendi, Matthew Williams at Givenchy, Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane at Celine, Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga, Alessandro Michele at Gucci, Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, Riccardo Tisci at Burberry. The list of female heritage creative directors is short: Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, Virginie Viard at Chanel, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski at Hermès and now Hearst.
One doesn’t break those barriers without being a force of nature. Hearst, who became an American citizen after Trump was elected to office, is a blunt, outspoken feminist who wraps her persistence in a silver bullet of charm, ambition and true intentions. At the risk of invoking a word that’s become overused marketing speak, she’s authentic. Riccardo Bellini, chief executive officer of Chloé, knew it when he hired Hearst as he outlined the company’s purpose-driven pivot toward a sustainable business model, which is where all the entrepreneurial money is going.
I don’t know what Hearst’s aesthetic vision will be for Chloé, but I imagine it won’t be too far afield from the confident, real-woman craft and modernism she’s honed at her own line. The difference is at Chloé, she has the mega resources of a storied atelier to fuel her mega drive. As an American woman in fashion, who has followed Hearst’s rise at close range, I’m excited to watch.