Chloé has a certain reputation for providing the world with the kind of handbags that launch mile-long waiting lists, heart palpitations and many a street-style shot - even before street-style shots were officially A Thing. Can't quite remember? Cast your mind back to the spring of 2005, when the slouchy Chloé Paddington - complete with the sizeable status-symbol of a gold padlock swinging from the front - sent us into such a spin that all 8,000 models that were made of it reportedly sold out before they had even hit stores. Phoebe Philo, the house's creative director at the time, had unwittingly created the 'It' Bag, and Chloé's hit-list has barely slowed down since.
Fittingly, in an era hungry for mid-naughties nostalgia, the maison has looked back at the Paddington for inspiration to create its latest hero bag - the Aby Lock. Shaped exactly like that iconic padlock, and coming complete with a minature key dangling to the side, it speaks to the playfulness heritage and savoir-faire of a brand that was founded in 1952 by a woman whose M.O. was to do things a little differently. Specifically, to focus on reflecting the optimistic new mood of the time through the pieces she was designing. Capturing the zeitgeist, and mirroring it back to her customers - much like the Aby Lock itself, in fact.
Photography: Effraim Evidor | Styling by Tabitha Jane Glaysher
Rejecting the stiff formalities of old, Gaby Aghion, an Egyptian-born Parisienne, took her bohemian spirit (her social circle included Pablo Picasso), and injected it into flowing, effortless ready-to-wear; a stark contrast to the prim and proper, post-war haute couture of the fashion world. Gaby was so instrumental in this relaxed sartorial movement that she even coined the phrase 'prêt-à-porter'. She best verbalised her love of creating firsts when she retired, famously saying of her foray into fashion, "Everything was yet to be invented, and this thrilled me."
A 1945 watercolour portrait of Gaby Aghion by Sevek
It's apt, then, that under the eye of current creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi, the brand is continuing to invent and poineer. The Aby Lock, in all its imminently viral glory, is just the latest example of that. Gaby would be proud.
From Harper's Bazaar Arabia's October 2019 Issue