Remembering Chloé fall 2006

There are a handful of fashion shows I’ll always feel very nostalgic about: for instance, Rodarte’s Spring 2008 show with spiderweb stockings and spiked heels; Prada’s show of the same season with hand-painted fairies on sheer tulle; McQueen’s spring 2003 collection with the iconic oyster dress; and Miu Miu’s 2011 mid-century collection with wide shoulders, tiny waists, and swallow prints. Among these shows ranks Chloé’s fall 2006 collection – which despite its bad reception, has always remained a favorite of mine.

The 2006 Chloé fall ready-to-wear show is not well-remembered or well-regarded in fashion history. Phoebe Philo had just left the label and, with no head designer, the show was put together by committee – the death knell for creative and cohesive design, as any designer from any industry will tell you. Criticized for its lack of shape and color, the collection was dismissed as a poor imitation of the carefree cool chic Philo bestowed upon the brand. Sarah Mower, fashion critic and author of Chloé Attitudes, called the collection “[close to] definitively ugly.”

This wool dress and these shoes were the second look in the Chloé runway show, modeled by Snejana Onopka. When I saw the dress on Vestiaire, having already owned the shoes, I knew I had to have it. The wide silhouette makes it easy to throw on over shirts and skirts; it’s really more of a coat. And I love the pleating and epaulets around the shoulders.

Although the collection received much criticism from the high priests of fashion, fashion laymen loved it. The wooden sky-high Silverado booties, similar to Philo’s wooden platforms of the previous season, quickly became the shoe of the season – featured all over magazines, editorials, and party photo sites like Lastnightsparty and Misshapes. (That was over ten years ago, are you feeling old yet?)

And despite the Silverado’s infamy as the shoe that sent Jessica Stam tumbling down the runway, the high leather booties were incredibly comfortable. The cleverly hidden platform that makes the 5 inch heels walkable left its indelible footprint on shoe design. For years after, Jeffrey Campbell peddled the horsey (and frankly more famous) Lita pump, an oft-compared copy with none the nuance. And although they’re certainly no longer an it shoe, I would even dare to say they’re still in fashion. (Indeed, I still bookmark variations of the shoe on resale sites, although I only have room in my closet for so many 5” towering heels.)

True to the conventional wisdom that accessories generally outsell clothing, the famous Silverado shoes proved to be the true stars of the collection (and one of my most prized wardrobe items). But the clothes have proved equally timeless. The restricted, muted palette and structured, woolen fabrics called to mind the “mori girl” fashion movement in Japan, which was perhaps one of the things that endeared me to it the most. “Mori,” meaning forest, is an aesthetic often marked by neutral, woodsy colors and vintage silhouettes like loose-fitting dresses and smocks. The easily layered jackets, dresses, and blouses proved not only wearable, but versatile. This particular dress that I managed to buy secondhand, with pleating on the shoulders and structured, exaggerated epaulets, has all the tailoring of a timeless piece of clothing.

As the label moves to define itself by its festival-friendly, boho chic instagram campaign, I feel nostalgic looking back on the older days of the label, when not particularly photo-ready pieces would be worn unseen on cold nights and rainy streets. True, I look like a monk when I wear this one out to the bars (one old man asked if I was a “fashion editor,” so I guess that’s a little more flattering?) but it feels special and timeless. Maybe not a collection with a massive peacocking potential, maybe not a collection for the archives – but still a solid and enduring collection nonetheless.

Chloe fall 2006 shoes