Sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon have been, to put it bluntly, crushing it since their debut collection launched at Toronto Fashion Week back in 2011 — their first show after graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Local boutiques were swift to pick up pieces from the collection. Realizing their school project was getting serious, the Gordon sisters renamed the brand in 2013 — from Chloé Comme Parris to Beaufille — and set about cultivating a signature look that blends hard elements (think structured neoprene and gloss-coated wools) with soft (shirred Victorian collars, ultra-wide flares).
In just a few years, the designer duo have earned accolades ranging from several CAFA (Canadian Arts and Fashion) Awards to making it to the 30 Under 30 list of Forbes, as well as winning over celebrities like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Chloë Grace Moretz, who have all been spotted wearing the Canadian label.
In conversation with Insight: The Art of Living, the designers reveal why home really is where the heart is — and what’s behind their newfound confidence.
Chloé and Parris, aged 30 and 28, respectively, grew up in the tony Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto and attended exclusive private schools Branksome Hall and the Toronto French School. Their mother, Eve Gordon, is an artist who painted everything, from canvasses to wall murals. Like most sisters, they would fight over the contents of each other’s closets. “I would steal Parris’s clothes and say they were mine,” says Chloé, laughing, “then write my initials in Sharpie.”
One could surmise that Beaufille’s binary DNA comes from the siblings’ unique aesthetics, cultivated in high school. Chloé was a self-professed tomboy, whereas Parris leaned more toward pretty (with the exception of one short-lived punk phase). Today, the sisters describe their sartorial style as more of a “classic uniform dressing,” meaning comfortable, wearable and put together.
At university, Chloé immediately gravitated toward textiles, while Parris chose to pursue jewellery design. “I have more of a rough, hard hand that’s more related to metalwork, like hammering and filing,” Parris explains. “I just wasn’t as delicate with textiles.”
That didn’t stop the sisters from partnering on a fashion line. Now, Beaufille boasts two jewellery categories — fashion, which, this season, incorporates playful oversized pearls and sculptural cuffs; and demi-fine subtler pieces available in 10- and 14-carat gold. (The best-seller is the Ringlet earring, a tri-hoop design that climbs up the earlobe to fake a multi-piercing look.)
For fall/winter 2018, Chloé and Parris are reimagining Beaufille’s greatest hits. With half a decade now under their belt and with worldwide stockists ranging from Nordstrom to Selfridges to Net-a-Porter, they have ascertained which pieces fly off the shelves fastest and then made the decision to build on them. “We’ve been doing these textured chiffon dresses that have a lot of elastic sheering in various colours and fabrics, and those have become really recognizable,” Chloé notes. To date, the feminine frock has appeared only in solid colours. For fall, the Gordons approached its construction by creating a masculine tartan but still maintaining the sheer fabric. A similar design tweak can be found in the solid-hued crocheted knits that have appeared over the past two seasons and have now turned up in graphic black and white.
“Each season, it has been about keeping something consistent and then bringing in new fabrics that allow us to go in another direction,” says Chloé. Total innovation isn’t off the table, however. A mock-blazer blouse in tartan fabric allows the wearer to look like the blazer had been tucked into a pant (a high-fashion stylist’s trick), but without the bulk of bunched-up fabric. “Creating that came out of a need for me personally. I love the look of a blazer, but sometimes it’s too warm to wear,” she explains. Meanwhile, the oversized turtlenecks, along with the collection’s calf- length structured coat in that same tartan material, are also on high rotation.
Parris too is branching out this season with the brand’s first foray into lifestyle. A capsule collection, comprised of modern, highly sculptural vases and jewellery stands that can also hold flowers and candles, sprung quite naturally from the way the designers were displaying Beaufille jewellery pieces during market appointments and in their showroom. What started as an experiment in building chic, functional metal forms ended up getting picked up by select online retailers, such as thedreslyn.com and chicun.design, both of which ship to Canada.
Inspiration knows no bounds, as the saying goes, and yet, many of the Gordon sisters’ ideas originate in the family home of their youth. Every Sunday for dinner, Chloé and Parris visit there, where their mother’s artworks, including decorative wooden objects, adorn the walls — and elsewhere in the house.
“She’s an amazing chef and [what’s] great about going [there] is eating the meal she’s spent days preparing, in the house that she painted, on placemats that she made,” Chloé enthuses. “There’s just endless creativity coming out of her.”
Eve Gordon’s collection of vintage fashion is also a regular source of imaginative fodder for her daughters, as is her extensive archive of Vogue magazines, which she has amassed since age 18. The sisters even collaborated with their mother on a Beaufille print in the past and they plan to do so again in the near future.
With creativity and culture richly ingrained in these designers’ lives, it’s no wonder they have succeeded in creating an ‘it’ label with clever, yet modestly cut, clothing rather than the navel- baring or street-baggy wares that many of their youthful contemporaries have succumbed to. Instead, the Beaufille formula suits both bare- faced gallery girls (not unlike Chloé and Parris themselves) and seasoned mavens alike.
For Chloé, who just turned 30, entering a new decade has brought about reflection as well as resolve. “I spent my 20s experimenting, making a bunch of different things and I feel [that], in your 30s, you get to really hone in on that,” she says. “The year’s not over yet, but I think there’s a newfound confidence that just comes with age and doing things for longer.”