If you thought Kate Moss circa 2004 (the sparkly mini dress and Hunter wellies which launched a thousand 'Get the Look' fashion features) or perhaps Alexa Chung at this year’s Glastonbury (the vinyl trousers, The Smiths sweater, the aged Barbour) hit the peak of what one should wear for festivals, then you clearly missed this weekend’s Cornwall memo.
At Port Eliot Festival – where high brow meets fine dining (listen to your favourite novelist wax lyrical about their ‘process’ whilst necking half a dozen oysters) – the French fashion house Chloé set a new high for in-field chic last weekend.
In the Wardrobe Department's dahlia edged walled garden- where the entertainment is curated by US Vogue contributing editor Sarah Mower- Creative Director Clare Waight Keller took to the stage to discuss her career (which has spanned posts at Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Pringle) as well as the story of Chloé - from its creation in the Sixties by founder Gaby Aghion to now - touching on the previous creative directorships of Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Hannah MacGibbon and, of course, Waight Keller herself.
Having bought a house in the area a couple of years ago the designer first came to Port Eliot last year. “It’s a nice mix” she said of the festival, “I like that you hear about the artist and what they think about. You see a different side to the performances which is one of reasons I wanted to do [the talk], it wasn’t just 'oh come and do a little fashion show…'”
Neatly, her current spring/summer collection riffs off early Nineties rave and festival culture. The dresses which were modelled by the rather elegantly fabulous Warren sisters- old friends of the festival- and singer Flo Morrissey fitted perfectly into the English country garden.
“There’s always been that bohemia about Chloé which is so linked to festival culture, the idea of being a free spirit. You can be who you want to be for that weekend and do things that you wouldn’t normally do…” said Waight Keller.
Of the synergy between the French house and British festival culture she explained that: “ The history of festivals is about this very sense of spontaneity and sense of freedom. I think the fact that there have been so many English designers has [also] seeped in a bit to the culture [of the house]. There’s a feeling that these long flow-y dresses which might be worn for evening dress for some people, can also be something you can fly around a festival in." It can't have been a coincidence that she was wearing a floaty maxi dress paired with well-worn Puma trainers herself.
Having dressed Adele for her killer Glastonbury headline performance in June, Waight Keller’s Chloé girls may well sum up the festival style of summer 2016. On dressing the singer, the designer explained that she had “fitted the dresses on her on the Thursday before. I was at her house and she was going between two looks, before deciding that [the one she wore] was ‘more Glastonbury.’ When she had the dresses on she twirled around asking us what we thought. She’s so cool, such a big personality, I love her.”
As well as Waight Keller’s talk and adornment of festival-goers, Chloé staged an exhibition of archive dresses from each decade of the house, and, rather brilliantly, donated rolls of fabric to the festival’s children’s fashion tent, the residents of which promptly ran it up into multi-coloured ra-ra skirts. Tween-agers’s doing DIY high fashion? Only at Port Eliot.