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Gaby Aghion

Chloé founder Gaby Aghion passes away

The 93-year-old pioneer is credited with inventing luxury ready-to-wear and discovering Karl Lagerfeld

Gaby Aghion, founder of Chloé and pioneer of luxury ready-to-wear, has passed away in Paris on Saturday morning. She was 93 years old. The news was confirmed by Chloé CEO Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye today.

The Egyptian-born Aghion founded Chloé in 1952 with the visionary idea of creating a luxury version of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear). At the time, French fashion houses only catered for wealthy couture customers.

Aghion rebelled against the stiff formality of haute couture, spying a gap in the market for off-the-rack, high-quality garments that embodied simplicity and femininity. She traded her first collection – a line of six cotton poplin dresses – out of a suitcase to boutiques. It sold out all over Paris, creating the idea of ready-to-wear as we now know it. 

Aghion also possessed a great eye for talent, tapping a young Karl Lagerfeld as head designer in 1966. Though she left the company in 1985 after selling her stake, she remained an ardent supporter of the label. 

Martine Sitbon, Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo all sought to channel her chic, feminine spirit in their tenures at Chloé. As Aghion once said, "All I've ever wanted was for Chloé to have a happy spirit, to make people happy."

One of her Aghion's final wishes was that her death would not overshadow the label's forthcoming SS15 womenswear collection at Paris Fashion Week, WWD reports. The show this Sunday will go ahead as planned.