Growing up in Normandy, France, Chloe Gosselin never imagined she would someday design her own shoe line, although, as a young girl, she had been drawn to all things art. At age 18, she moved to Belgium and enrolled in the prestigious Fine Arts Program at the L’École de la Cambre (The School of La Cambre). While a student, classmates and friends asked her to help them with a fashion show. Gosselin walked the runway in the show, and a modeling agency took note.
“I’m not that tall; I’m not that skinny, and I never thought it was something I could do,” says Gosselin. Seizing the opportunity, the young French girl spent a decade as a working model. It was during this period that Gosselin fell in love with shoes. Specifically, she admired quality, well-designed shoes from times past.
Gosselin is passionate about vintage shoes and collects Christian Dior Souliers (shoes) from the 1950s and 1960s. Ever the artist, Gosselin notices fine details that others miss. “It was all so precious and detailed, feminine,” she says, describing shoes from the period.
Nine years ago, Gosselin moved to New York and took courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied shoe-making and design.
“I just jumped in! I didn’t work with any other designer,” she says. “For me, it’s always been about more than designing shoes. It’s about building a story around it.”
In 2014, Gosselin launched her luxury shoe line, which clearly is influenced by her background in art. “When I was a kid, I always drew and painted. I wanted to be a painter,” she says. And she did become a painter, in a way, as Gosselin’s shoes are wearable art.
Each of Gosselin’s designs is given the name of a different poisonous flower. She explains the thinking behind the names, saying, “I’m a true romantic, and I like the idea of the danger of flowers …. Some shoes are stronger and more powerful, so they need a name with a strong poison,” says Gosselin, who incorporates many exotic skins, cutouts and zippers into her designs.
“The Amaryllis” is delicate and sleek, the perfect shoe for sashaying into a performance of The Nutcracker. “Bryonia” sports eye-catching, snake-like curves and need only a pair of jeans and a simple white T-shirt. With faux-fur ankle wraps, playful tassels, and sky-high heels, “Privet” and “Plumeria” both beg to be escorted to holiday parties. The juxtaposition of sensual suede and fierce snakeskin helps achieve Goesslin’s signature look. With luxurious burgundy suede paired with silver layers and soft, delicate curves, “Holly” begs to be called dangerously beautiful.
Although Gosselin launched her line only two years ago, fashion editors have taken note, as have celebrity fashion icons; Taylor Swift, Kat Graham, Lake Bell, Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Hurley all have been spotted wearing Chloe Gosselin heels.
When asked the kind of woman she has in mind when designing, Gosselin replies, “The girl who’s very strong, powerful, independent. That’s one side of her. That’s why I tailor shoes like a shirt collar. She’s also a dreamer, delighted by the past. More feminine and light. I believe she can be those two people at the same time.”
The collection thus far has featured primarily evening sandals and pumps, but some exquisitely designed flats and boots are included, as well. Gosselin says she plans to incorporate more daywear designs and mid-high heels as the line expands.
Now a resident of Las Vegas, Gosselin says her personal apparel choices include either a Salma Hall blouse with jeans and the highest heels, vintage Geoffrey Beene (whose designs are “still so current,” she says, enthusiastically), or riding clothes.
In her spare time, the busy mom of a five-year old is an avid equestrian. Gosselin bought her dream horse, an Andalusian named Milo, as a treat for her 30th birthday and rides most days. Gosselin notes her love of horseback riding and the thoughtful way horse tack is made, especially leather equipment and buckles on saddles and bridles, serves as design inspiration. Her dressage trainer, she says, keeps trying to convince her to design riding boots, but added that she’s laughing off that suggestion for now.
When asked about her collection for 2016, Gosselin divulges the line will bring back some classic styles incorporated with new styles she finds exciting. The collection also will feature many organic colors. “I was really inspired by landscapes and layers of rock,” she says.
Perhaps it’s her love of the staying power of vintage, but Gosselin says she doesn’t care much about following trends; she follows her own vision and artistic influences.
Gosselin’s daughter enjoys her designs but, like mom, gravitates towards vintage. She’ll walk around in her mom’s shoes at their home, but, the minute she and her mom are in a restaurant, the tyke promptly sheds her shoes. “She removes her shoes all the time!” laughs Gosselin fondly.
It’s clear that the model-turned-designer is passionate about all aspects of her life, from shoemaking to motherhood to horseback riding. Despite her success, Gosselin doesn’t take herself too seriously and is refreshingly humble; this writer found it hard not feel inspired speaking with Gosselin, a true artist and dreamer.
Gosselin’s shoes, which are avail¬able only online, range in price from $750 to $1,600. All Chloe Gosselin shoes are handmade in Italy in the factory that also pro¬duces the Jimmy Choo line.