Women in Film, a nonprofit supporting women in entertainment and media, gives actress ChloŽ Grace Moretz its “Face of the Future” award tonight in Beverly Hills.
Chloes will soon be women of the future in all professions.
Chloe, Greek for “sprouting green plant,” was first a title of Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility.
Real women were called Chloe in ancient Greece. Around 55 A.D., in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament, “Chloe’s people” (either her family or her servants) told Paul about quarrels among Corinth’s Christians.
A century later, Greek writer Longus wrote “Daphnis and Chloe,” in which soldiers kidnap Chloe and the god Pan saves her before she marries Daphnis and lives happily ever after.
Jacques Amyot translated Longus’s tale into French in 1559. A few French girls then were named Chloť, but it remained rare.
Chloe was first well-used in colonial New England when Puritan parents searching for Biblical names found Paul’s reference to Chloe of Corinth. In 1790’s first United States census, which gave only names of household heads, there were 19 Chloes.
In 1850, the first census listing all Americans by name found 3,568 Chloes. Back then, Chloe was almost completely American; in the 1851 census of the United Kingdom, when the total populations of the two countries were similar, there were only three Chloes.
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published the famous anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Uncle Tom’s wife is Aunt Chloe, a cook who hires herself out to make money to buy his freedom. Tragically, Tom’s on his deathbed when Chloe’s money arrives.
Stowe’s novel kept the name Chloe in the public eye. When Social Security’s yearly name lists begin in 1880, Chloe ranked 367th for girls.
After 1900, Chloe steadily declined. It dropped off the top thousand names in 1944 and stayed rare throughout the baby boom years.
Band leader Spike Jones didn’t help Chloe’s image with his famous 1945 parody of the ballad “Chloe.” Vocalist Red Ingle’s mournful search through dismal swamplands for Chloe is interrupted by ringing telephones and the shout “Where are you, you old bat!”
The seeds for Chloe’s return were planted in France. In 1952, Egyptian-born Gaby Aghion started a fashion house in Paris. Thinking her own name sounded like a fortune-teller’s, she named her business Chloť after a friend whose name she found warm, feminine and slightly audacious, the image she wanted for her designs.
Chloť invented “luxury ready-to-wear.” After Karl Lagerfeld joined the firm in 1966, it became a top Parisian house, with customers like Jackie Onassis and Princess Grace. In 1975, Chloť introduced its popular perfume, increasing the brand’s worldwide fame.
In France and England, where Chloe had been very rare, the name boomed. Since 1998, Chloť has been one of the top five girls’ names in France. Between 1995 and 2001, Chloe was No. 1 for girls in England.
Chloe’s rise was only a bit slower here. It re-entered the top thousand in 1982, the top hundred in 1998, and the top ten in 2008. When alternative spellings like Khloe (promoted by reality TV celebrity Khloe Kardashian) are added in, Chloe was No. 5 for American girls in 2011.
Screenwriters also picked up on Chloe. The Superman-inspired series “Smallville” featured character Chloe Sullivan between 2001 and 2011. Soaps “Days of Our Lives” and “The Young and the Restless” both recently have had Chloes as main characters. These are cases, though, of TV using an already-popular name rather than creating the new fashion.
It’s remarkable how many well-known American Chloes have fashion connections. Chloe Sevigny, best supporting actress Oscar nominee for “Boys Don’t Cry” in 1999, also is a fashion model and designer. Vietnamese-American Chloe Dao won the second season of Lifetime’s “Project Runway” fashion design contest in 2006. Even swimmer Chloe Sutton, competing in the 800-meter freestyle at Olympic trials in Omaha later this month, was born in 1992 to a mother who’s a former fashion model.
ChloŽ Grace Moretz, born in 1997, was featured in “Hugo” and “Dark Shadows.” She stars in next year’s remake of the classic horror film “Carrie.” The full name of the award she gets tonight is “The Women In Film Max Mara ‘Face of the Future’” award, so it too is sponsored by a fashion house.
There just isn’t a better example of the link between fashion and baby names than Chloe.