Sisters by design

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By Laura Trask

Sisters, thrown together at birth with often little more in common than their biological parents and the environment that they provide, can, if they overcome their differences, become the strongest allies. Having made it through the family dramas and sibling rivalry, why not use the complex bonds of sisterhood to collaborate in business? Since sisters grow up practicing their creativity on each

New fall collection from the Gordon sisters’ label, Chloe comme Parris.

other, sharing clothes and giving each other fashion advice, it is no wonder that many sister-businesses take form in the area of design.
On a recent trip to Nova Scotia I met the Gordon sisters who design under the label Chloe comme Parris. I so enjoyed meeting and talking with these bright young things (Chloe is 24 and Parris a mere 22) and getting in on all the excitement of their blossoming career.
At Toronto’s Fashion Week, Chloe comme Parris was the one to watch, coming up with a collection that took the 1920’s and stood it on its ear with feminine pieces that had a bad girl edge to them — think muted florals and hardware. Pleated garments were also an important aspect of the collection These pieces were hand sewn, some taking three days to complete. Fur was the other soft edge finishing out the look with fur shrugs and vests.
There is always a young Goth-y radicalization to Chloe and Parris’s design. These two sisters, who put a lot of thought into researching and defining what their season will be (this is only their third), seem to  balance each other perfectly. Chloe heads the clothing design and Parris designs the jewelry and hardware. It’s the melding of these two elements that seems to create the wonderful simpatico of their collection.  But, as the sisters point out, it was being raised in the world of their artist mother that gives them the singular vision that is required when two people are trying to reach a common goal. Here is where we see that being family can make all the difference in the ease and honesty of a partnership and ultimately gives the Gordon sisters their shared design sensibility.

What other designing sisters are doing for fall 2012:

Rodarte, the established and celebrated  label, is designed by sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy who took the fall runways by storm! This season it seems the sisters have broadened their scope. A 1940s influence could be seen in the tailoring of suits, shapely coats, utilitarian shearlings, cabled sweater

Reese Witherspoon wears Rodarte

and cargo pants, which seemed in direct contrast to the ultra-artistic and elaborate detailing on which the label was established. The sisters certainly put their own sophisticated flair on a major fall trend — embelishments that have turned up in every designer’s collection in all shapes and sizes, from the very tiniest of sequins to behemoth-sized jewels. These beautiful accents not only add a luxuriousness to the garments they adorn but no doubt add some weight. The show was so full of Hollywood A-listers, that many joked it was the pre-Oscar show! So I would be on the lookout for stars wearing Rodarte come award season!
The Olson twins, whom we have practically watched since birth often not knowing which was which, have two fashion labels to their credit with very contrasting focuses. Elizabeth and James, the pair’s more reasonably priced line named for the twin’s other siblings. It has a youthful, girly spirit and showed the most important silhouette of this fall season … the peplum, which by definition is a short, full flounce on a garment’s waist! So much fun

Peplum is fall’s fun silhouette.

to wear!
The Row, the twins’ higher brow — and higher price tag — label, was its predictable beautifully tailored serious self! Lots of beautiful leather in camel colors and all very body conscious, with hem lines and tailoring that often had surprising twists and turns, making these pieces a unique addition to any wardrobe.
Sisterhood does not come easy but is a condition that must be worked at. As the Gordon sisters have often expressed in interviews, it is by being family that they have the confidence and security of knowing that they have each other’s back. And in the cutthroat world of fashion, that is priceless!