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Creative Process: Chloé comme Parris
"We're family, so we have each other's back and trust each other"

Chloé and Parris Gordon are technically at the end of a whirlwind week (between a 3-day sample sale, photoshoot, and preparations for Fashion’s Night Out), but are just at the beginning of an even bigger endeavor: New York Fashion Week. The owners and creative directors at the helm of Chloé comme Parris will show their Spring 2013 collection on September 9th in the Big Apple, a dream come true.

Contacted back in January by NYFW’s artistic director, the girls were invited to apply to show this fall after sending in a package of their best work and meeting with the director. 

“We went down to New York and brought our new collection to show her,” Chloé said as we sat in their studio where the reminants of their sale hang on racks around us. “It’s so surreal, we keep looking at each other like ‘Are we going to New York next week?’ One of our biggest goals has always been to show in New York and to have one of those things already at our fingertips is crazy and amazing.”

Hailing from Toronto but studying in Halifax, the sisters were just finishing a last year (Chloé) and beginning a second year (Parris) at Nova Scotia’s College of Art and Design when they were asked by The Fashion Collective‘s director Dwayne Kennedy to participate in Toronto Fashion Week. Showing their Spring 2011 collection in the fall of 2010, the line featured 15 pieces and jumped started a career that has already found a fiercely loyal following in the city.

Photo by Jason Hargrove

While chatting about their respective roles in the company, I find out that the sisters have been trained in very different fields. Parris studied jewellery design and metalsmithing, and heads up the label’s adornments. She creates all the jewellery and hardware that embellishes a select few garments each season (including custom buttons, chains, and snaps that will appear on their NYFW runway). Chloé, trained in textiles and fashion, sketches ideas and concepts for every season. They maintain that it is absolutely a joint effort, and they constantly edit, discuss, and improve designs together and consistently give feedback about each other’s creations. “We’re family so we have each other’s back and trust each other,” says Chloé.

Chloé comme Parris Fall 2012 collection. Photo by Jason Hargrove.

A trip to the library signals the start of a new collection, as the sisters get their inspiration from history books. This part of the process usually begins halfway through a completed collection when the girls are ‘itching’ to work on something new. Once they settle on a historical period to learn from, Chloé and Parris decide on a more modern time to merge with it. 

“Our research period is really important,” Chloé tells me. “It’s about doing something in a different way, which is why we pick things that are polar opposites, it creates something new. We have a mother who’s an artist, Parris is a jeweler, I do fashion and we wanted to push all three of those things. When we create, we’re thinking of how the textiles, and the hardware, and the jewellery, and the cuts are going to blend together seamlessly. That’s the most important part in our process: making it harmonious. We want our stuff to come off effortless and easy to wear.”

The girls get practically giddy when we discuss their Spring 2013 collection.

“Spring is going to be things you haven’t seen before from us,” laughs Parris. “Specifically the colour palette. There’s prints, hardware…it’s very easygoing this season. I think it’s great to integrate into a wardrobe you already have. The jewellery collection is bigger, the clothing has more hanger appeal than every before. Last collection was 80% editorial things and 20% wearable and this season it’s the exact reverse.”

The Chloé comme Parris work studio

Taking inspiration from the Assyrian Empire (circa 1307 BC, give or take a few years) and melding it with California skater culture from the ’70s, Chloé and Parris have created garments that possess Zephyr boy effortless uniform style with the rich and ornate designs of an ancient culture. Although it sounds convoluted, the sisters agree that it’ll be the perfect addition to a customer’s already established wardrobe. Wearability is the continuous mantra I hear while talking about the label. The Gordon’s are firm in their belief that they cater to a very user-friendly fanbase.

“We call our imaginary muse the effortless chic tomboy,” says Chloé. “She dresses for herself. Subtle chic. We’re always looking for a chic girl who wants something different. We’re always thinking of wearability. When it comes to colours we don’t want to use anything temporary because they’re a trend. We’re thinking about longevity. Our pieces aren’t exactly cheap so we think about our pieces being able to stay in a wardrobe for a long time.”

Even though they’re onward and upward to a blindingly bright future, Chloé and Parris promise to be back in time for Toronto Fashion Week where they hope to surprise and amaze their fans with their new collection… a serious departure from what we’re used to. Case in point: almost no black was used in the making. Employing a sunsoaked saturation to a few garments, they promise the new line will be very dreamy, easy and soft, but richly embellished with the textiles and the hardware we’ve come to love them for.

“We’re obviously thrilled about New York,” says Chloé. “But will never forget Toronto and the support we get here. It’s paved the way for exactly what we’re doing now. Without all these experiences in Toronto we would not be going to New York. 


Bianca Teixeira writes about style for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at @BeeLauraTee.

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