An Ode to the Chloé Silverado

The Paddington’s under-appreciated side-chick deserves a fitting tribute!

The Y2K, in many ways, occupies a distinctive position within the fashion lexicon. Certainly, it was a period of excesses; of sequins, rhinestones, metallics, and exotics, all enmeshed together in a way that feels utterly ridiculous in the current handbag climate but was somehow entirely appropriate at the time. Case in point: would you be caught dead today with a Louis Vuitton Motard Firebird à la Louise from Sex and the City? I thought so too.

At the same time, the noughties were a period of unbridled optimism, romanticism, and ostentation, which feels like a far-off dream now. One could don their rose-tinted lenses, sneak in the latest gossip columns under the blankets past bedtime, and – save for the occasional reminder that low-rise jeans still existed – the world simply felt like a good place to be in.

Therefore, despite a few questionable choices by luxury houses, like (*coughs*) Louis Vuitton, reminiscing about the purses of the yesteryears has become a popular pastime amongst us purse-lovers. And to bank on this sentiment, brands high and low have brought back popular styles from the early aughts, so we may wallow in our nostalgia for the bygone days. But even though we have seen the return of several Y2K icons in recent years, from Ms. Bradshaw’s Baguette to Marc Jacobs’ Stam, certain styles have also largely been left behind in 2005, along with Paris Hilton, chief among which is the Chloé Paddington. And although Ms. Hilton’s personal-assistant-turned-best-friend-turned-frenemy has successfully made it into 2023, Chloé’s counterpart of Kim K. – the Silverado – hasn’t had that good of a fortune.

So today, we’re throwing it back to an underrated gem of the it-bag era, the Chloé Silverado!

The Makings of an It-Bag

It’s a question we’ve dealt with here at PurseBlog often enough to drive you slightly bonkers: what makes a bag an It-bag?

Proclaimed as “that totemic accessory that announced you were owner of all that was desirable in the world,” the definition of an It-bag encompasses nearly all that we’ve come to expect from a luxury handbag at this point: exclusive, expensive, and exquisitely made. Or as Plum Sykes sums it up for Vogue:

“An It-bag is an It-bag only if you’re unlikely to possess it.”

Chloe Silverado Bag Gold
The Chloé Silverado via Vogue

By that definition, nearly all designer purses today fall within a rather ambiguous classification spectrum, from the classic Hermès Birkin to Telfar’s street-savvy “Bushwick Birkin. In the early aughts, however, with little social media to go by, much of the power of declaring the newest It-bag was vested upon fashion and celebrity tabloids. And it was these publications that were a testament to the rise of the very first bona fide it-bag, the Chloé Paddington. With a hefty 6oz padlock, even heftier waitlists, and a full-on frenzy from buyers (all 8,000 pieces of its Spring 2005 collection were sold out even before reaching stores!), few purses that came before or after the affectionately-dubbed “Paddy” could match its fervor.

Indeed, all its it-bag predecessors, from the Prada Nylon Backpack to Louis Vuitton Multicolore and the Luella Gisele, were retroactively named as such. At the same time, most that followed also failed to incite the same level of hysteria. Interestingly though, the Silverado, which supposedly succeeded the Paddington, never became It in the first place.

Was the Silverado Ever an It-Bag?

Rapidly following its SS05 debut, the logo-less Paddington, originally meant to be an insider favorite, carved out a niche, making regular rounds on the front pages and spawning hundreds of lookalikes. Consequently, purse-hungry Chloé girls began to seek out more (possibly lighter) offerings from the brand, and that is when they stumbled upon the Silverado. In fact, many fans considered themselves in a “Chloé zone,” naturally progressing their collections from the Paddington to the Silverado to the Edith, which came out later in the Spring of 2006.

image via TPF user beautifulbasics

But contrary to what many believe, the Silverado was released before its more popular sister, in the Fall of 2004. And although less hardware-heavy, it was the more embellished of the two, featuring antique golden rivets, whipstitched top handles, side flap pockets, and a tab over zip-top. The style was also released in various colorways and materials, from calfskin to metallics, exotics, or both, giving it a real maximalist flair. Its iterations were seemingly endless, including, but not limited to, a tote, hobo, messenger, and doctor bag designs, alongside belts and footwear from the line.

Because of its somewhat busy build, however, the longevity of the Silverado was questioned from the very beginning. Of course, some swore by its country-chic, casual aesthetic. Others were less welcoming, perceiving it as a supplement to their Paddingtons than a standalone it-purse. And by the time the 2010s had rolled around, it seemed that both the Paddington and the Silverado had been discontinued and laid to the rest, with the latter becoming a handbag has-been without ever having been It in the first place!

Did Phoebe Philo Get This One Wrong?

Founded by Gaby Aghion in 1952, for a large part of its existence, the House of Chloé has been helmed by female designers (although its longest-serving Creative Director was Karl Lagerfeld!) Thus, the brand has seen many prominent names, like Stella McCartney, Hannah MacGibbon, Natacha Ramsay-Levi, and Gabriela Hearst. But arguably, none of them did as great a job translating Aghion’s free-spirited ethos as Phoebe Philo, its creative lead between 2001 and 2006, having started off as McCartney’s design assistant for the brand in 1997.

chloe fall winter 2004 campaign 1
Chloé Fall/Winter 2004

In fact, if there’s one thing that can be said of Ms. Philo, it’s that she knows how to predict trends, and it was during her reign that the brand’s assured star, and perhaps the very first widely-acclaimed It-bag, the Paddington, reached peak popularity. Much of her initial inspiration for the craze surrounding Old Céline was also derived from her tenure at Chloé, from flowy, oversized, and strikingly modern garments, to luscious, swoon-worthy leather accessories.

The Silverado, au contraire, was a brainchild of her predecessor, Stella McCartney, who designed it as a part of a street-inspired “neo-Chloé look.” And it was perhaps owing to this that the Paddington is still fondly reminisced about by fans. At the same time, the Silverado, though relatively popular during its run, has mostly disappeared from the public eye now.

Chloe Silverado

Chloé Silverado Bag
via The RealReal

But should we leave it in the past because the Silverado failed to ride the Paddington’s popularity wave? Probably not. Appreciating Chloé’s commitment to quality, it’s undeniable that it was originally McCartney who put the previously slept-on brand on the radar. It was upon her foundations that Philo could capitalize.

Plus, although the Silverado has a specific, bohemian aesthetic that feels very West Coast, it shares several similarities with the Edith, which was recently revived by Gabriela Hearst. Perhaps, with a slightly updated (and less ornamented) exterior, who knows, the brand might just be able to usher in a new era for the Silverado! And if you, like me, are a bargain hunter (or are mining your closet for vintage finds), the style is also in line with today’s beater-chic trend. In many ways, the Silverado feels very OG Gossip Girl, and if nothing else, that reason alone may be enough to convince buyers to acquire one (for a steal, might I add) on resale!


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