When we discovered her, it was hard to believe it was only Chloe Gosselin's second season. Her signature aesthetic mixes refined elegance with an unforgettable intrigue. The French designer splits her time between New York and Las Vegas, where she designs her refined (and incredibly sexy) collection. Quickly becoming known for her exquisite fabrics and artisan craftsmanship, Chloe Gosselin's collections are made in Italy. We caught up with Chloe to hear about the unique challenges of building a luxury shoe brand, the importance of mentors, and her plans for the future. - Catherine Smith
CHLOE, TELL ME ABOUT LAUNCHING YOUR BRAND. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BEGIN A COLLECTION?
“I’ve always had a passion for shoes and starting sketching them at a very young age. However, I realized that I wanted to make footwear my career after the birth of my child. I had new aspirations and wanted to go back to something creative. Having my own brand was inevitable; I had that global vision of a collection with a specific style and signature. I love to control every aspect, from designing and production, to branding and marketing.”
YOU HAD A WONDERFUL CAREER AS A MODEL – DID THAT INFLUENCE YOUR DECISION TO GO INTO DESIGN?
“Not really. The only influence was that as a model I was able to afford the designer shoes I loved and built a pretty nice collection, until I realized I had my own take on the question. Modeling was a great time in my life. I got to travel and meet some precious friends. One of my favorite jobs was in South Africa shooting a TV commercial, and on my days off I would climb Table Mountain or visit Boulders Beach and see the penguins.”
WHAT SPARKED YOUR PASSION FOR SHOES? HAVE YOU ALWAYS APPRECIATED HEELS?
“I love the 3 dimension of a shoe. They are like a wearable sculpture that can completely change who you are, and the way you carry yourself. I’ve always loved heels. My mom never wore them, but I remember when I was three years old she had a job where she needed to wear a black pump with a tiny little heel, and I was completely obsessed.”
HOW DO YOU BEGIN DESIGNING EACH COLLECTION?
“I usually collect images throughout the year for a mood board, and when it is time for a new collection, I put the puzzle together and draw colors and textures based on the references. Then I focus on the designs, and return to looking at colors and textures while choosing leathers. I have this amazing freedom right now because I make all the decisions in building the collection from A to Z. So I usually isolate myself while designing a new collection, and I really focus on designing and letting my creativity flow. Then when I have something strong together I start asking opinions from my team and friends.”
WHO HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR? DO YOU HAVE MENTORS?
“I still can’t believe how much I have learned in the past 3 years. There have been many people in fashion that advised me and I’m truly grateful for their help. My mentor and biggest supporter is my best friend Shannon Hoey, owner and curator of New York Vintage. Her amazing knowledge has been so precious to me and she has connected me with numerous stylists and fashion insiders.”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH RETAILERS.
“Sales has been an interesting process, I feel very blessed that since day one the most amazing stores in the world have come to see my collection. Every season gets more rewarding and we are slowly getting more accounts. I’m thrilled to say that Chloe Gosselin shoes will be at Level in Dubai and Printemps in Paris this season, and of course Plan De Ville. I have learned a lot by doing sales myself and since I really get to know the buyers, I’m able to tell the stories behind each shoe.”
AND YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE FASHION PRESS?
“Having a great PR team was one my top priority when I started,” said Chloe, of her decision to work with Umindi Francis’s company, UFCG. “I love working with them and developing relationships with the fashion press. Magazines have embraced the Chloe Gosselin shoes, and we’ve had some really nice features and editorials in W magazine, Tatler, Interview, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, O, Departures, Hollywood Reporter…”
AND WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
“It is so rewarding seeing the finished samples each season, from sketch to reality. It’s an unbelievable feeling, like a little girl’s dream coming true each time I see the new shoes on the production line.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR BUSINESS? HOW HAVE THEY EVOLVED?
“As you can imagine it is very expensive to make a luxury shoe, so I’d definitely say that managing money and cash flow has been the biggest challenge. It can be difficult to determine which expenses to prioritize, and I’ve had to learn to be patient.”
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
“I just have so many stories to tell. I picked the shoes has a medium to do so, seeing women wearing my shoes and being part of that story is a wonderful reward and I can’t wait to see more and more girls around town wearing my creations.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHLOE GOSSELIN?
“I just shot a season-less movie for the brand in Los Angeles, featuring some of our signature styles. I wanted something cinematic, very beautiful, and a bit dangerous,” said Gosselin, who names each shoe style after a poisonous flower. “The film is directed by my dear friend Jennifer Massaux - we were models together, and now she works for Madonna, L’Officiel, and Cosmopolitan. The cinematography is by Todd Heater, who has worked for Lady Gaga, Bulgari, and H&M. The model is one of my dearest friends as well and a Belgium top model, so the film was a real family affair. We will be launching it during fashion week next month. I can’t wait to share it with you.”