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Byline: Joelle Diderich WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MILES SOCHA
Then and Now
Gaby Aghion founded the flirty house, and Clare Waight Keller holds the design reins today.
When Gaby Aghion founded ChloA[c] in 1952 as an antidote to the stiff formality of haute couture, she did nothing short of revolutionizing fashion.
The Egyptian-born designer had a simple vision: using fine fabrics to create feminine, alluring clothes that required minimal alteration.
"She was shocked by how poorly French women were dressed," her son, Philippe Aghion, recalled. "On the one hand, you had haute couture, for the very high bourgeoisie, but the majority of people were very badly turned out. She invented luxury ready-to-wear."
Aghion herself put it somewhat less bluntly. "A lot of things did not exist in France," Aghion, who at 91 has retired from the public eye, said in comments provided by ChloA[c]. "Everything was yet to be invented, and this thrilled me."
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Aghion appeared destined for extraordinary things from an early age. The daughter of a cigarette factory manager, she met her husband, Raymond, when both were seven years old in elementary school. He was born into a wealthy family of cotton exporters, but displayed early stirrings of the social consciousness that would later land him in political exile.
"My parents were both appalled at the level of poverty in Egypt," said Philippe Aghion, who is …