Ten days after the designer Gabriela Hearst presented her last show for Chloé at Paris Fashion Week, the French fashion house confirmed the appointment of her successor, Chemena Kamali.
Ms. Kamali, 41, is a German-born designer who began her career at Chloé in 2003, working under Phoebe Philo. She later rejoined the house as design director to Clare Waight Keller in 2013, leaving for Saint Laurent in 2016, where she served as the women’s ready-to-wear design director.
Ms. Kamali’s appointment is something of a full-circle moment, and it comes at a time when many in the fashion industry are questioning why so few top-tier luxury brands are led by women.
In a statement released on Monday, Ms. Kamali said, “My heart has always been Chloé’s. It has been since I stepped through its doors more than 20 years ago. Returning feels natural and very personal.”
Riccardo Bellini, chief executive of the Richemont-owned brand, called Ms. Kamali a “natural choice” for the house and praised her “creative talent, extensive experience and unique connection to the brand’s legacy.”
The announcement of Ms. Kamali’s appointment came just days after that of another top fashion house: Alexander McQueen hired Seán McGirr to replace Sarah Burton. The new roles for both Ms. Kamali and Mr. McGirr reflect a recent trend among fashion executives to favor relatively unknown designers over splashier names for top positions at prominent houses.
It also comes amid a resurgence in the debate around why fashion, a business largely for and about women, primarily has male designers in leading roles and why there is a lack of racial diversity in those ranks.
Women do head the design studios of the industry heavyweights Chanel and Dior, but in a thinned-out field, eyes will be on Ms. Kamali’s debut at Chloé with a pre-collection in January and a ready-to-wear runway show in February in Paris.
Ms. Kamali’s appointment is a welcome step in the right direction for the fashion industry, but it is important to note that she is only one person. There is still much work to be done to promote diversity and inclusion in the upper echelons of the business.
One way to achieve this would be for fashion houses to create more transparent and equitable hiring practices. This could include setting targets for diversity and inclusion, and ensuring that hiring committees are themselves diverse.
Another important step would be to invest in developing and mentoring young designers from diverse backgrounds. This could be done through programs such as internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships.
Finally, the fashion industry needs to continue to have open and honest conversations about the challenges faced by women and people of color in the workplace. This includes talking about issues such as pay equity, harassment, and discrimination.
Only by addressing these issues can the fashion industry create a truly inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
In the meantime, fashion fans can support Ms. Kamali and other female designers by buying their clothes and following them on social media. We can also use our voices to speak out against discrimination and inequality in the fashion industry.