Chloé    Report

The Chloé Wedge is Bringing Back Old-School Product Placement

Has Chemena Kamali taken product pushes (and front row fashion) back to its roots?

They say you can take the magic out of the fashion show, but you can never take the magic out of the front row. 

Actually, scratch that off. Nobody ever said that.

In fact, only very briefly was there an era in the history of fashion when the seating chart of the front row was reserved exclusively for the bigwigs of style, namely, the Diana Vreelands, the Carine Roitfelds, or the Anna Wintours of their time. 

Understandably, this also coincides with that (similarly short-lived) period when the runway show itself mattered more than its mere digital representation.

But now, with the front row as much a part of the spectacle as the runway itself, VIPs – a catch-all, near-derogatory expression connoting influencers, celebrities, starlets, and the like – abound, who too are outfitted by the brand in its latest garbs in the hopes that they, if not the actual models, might capture a wanton shopper’s attention (and potentially, wallet).

Is any of that surprising to us? Not really. 

With multitudes of options in a brand’s lookbook (in line with the mutually exclusive micro-aesthetics trending at any given moment), it’s only par for the course that the label would want them all seen, if not necessarily sold.

Chemena Kamali Chloe Creartive Director
Ms. Chemena Kamali

What is surprising, however, is that it only took Chloé’s latest creative masthead, Ms. Chemena Kamali, one wooden wedge (of all things) to reduce today’s culture of rampant PR gifting to rubble and, ironically enough, get applauded for it too. 

Fashion, dear reader, has yet again come full circle. Except this time, it’s not an it-bag, but an it-shoe that looms ahead of us!

The Big Boho Comeback

However, the seemingly puzzling return of the wedge to the forefront of fashion isn’t entirely unwarranted within the broader fashion landscape. They have, after all, been in existence since the days of ancient Greek theater!

Chloe FW 24 2
A model walks in Chemena Kamali’s first runway show for FW 2024
Chloe FW 24
BoHo details like fringe, texture and flowy fabrics are back at Chloé

But more importantly, it underscores what fashion headlines have been declaring (with severely misplaced confidence, might I add) for quite some time now: that the aggressively beige days of quiet luxury are over, and boho is back!

You know, that singularly specific subset of Y2K style that comprised an early-aughts Mischa Barton or a ridiculously over-accessorized Olsen twin, clutching their hulking Dior Gaucho Saddles or Balenciaga Cities like their life depended on it?

Well, if the Fall/Winter 2024 runway shows at Paris of Isabel Marant, Paco Rabanne, and most recently, Chloé have something in common, it’s the penchant towards that brand of carefree, comfy, ultra-feminine aesthetic, simply known as boho-chic.

But the Chloé gig remains especially significant because of Ms. Kamali’s newest appointment as lead designer, replacing her precursor, Ms. Gabriela Hearst’s short (and somewhat contentious) stint at the label, in a marriage that feels as harmonious as pertinent. Kamali, who is no stranger to the brand, has seemingly taken Chloé back to its roots, and with that, its product pushes too.

At the Cutting (W)edge of Fashion

In fact, having begun her career during Phoebe Philo’s tenure at the label, later rejoining as design director to Clare Waight Keller in 2013, and until recently, serving as the womenswear ready-to-wear design director at Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent, the Düsseldorf-born designer has quite the résumé.

So, in true Chloé fashion, she sent ruffled, billowy tops, flared jeans, chiffon dresses, leather jackets, and statement belts down the runway – none of it particularly new. Still, all of it feels entirely fresh and uncontrived. 

Chemena Kamali 1
As Kamali took her bow, everyone noticed those wedges.

As the NYT writes, “With Kamali, a new generation, will get to discover the Chloé Girl as if for the first time.” And boy, did that Chloé Girl they see.

However, the most interesting of the lot was not on the runway itself but on the front row! A gaggle of showgoers, all in black strappy leather platform wedges with wooden heels, populated the place, some being rather well-known faces, like Pat Cleveland, Georgia May Jagger, Kiernan Shipka, and the ultimate Y2K boho-patron saint – the paparazzi middle-finger brandishing diva herself – Sienna Miller.

The choice to outfit so many of the attendees in the same shoe, especially when the collection itself featured multiple variants of fringed pumps, studded sandals, mules, and kitten heels, has since left the fashion industry intrigued and nostalgia-ridden. 

A move former Vogue writer Liana Satenstein calls on her Substack, “PR art at its finest; a give that girl-a-raise move that was of course manufactured, but seemingly done with elegant cheek.” But really, why now?

Divided in Fashion, Unified in Function

With sandal season in full swing, the move didn’t go unnoticed among shoppers. Searches for wedges, in fact, soared by 25% on The RealReal on the day of Kamali’s show and searches for Chloé by 37%. Change was afoot.

However, the strategic placement of the footwear was much more than clever advertising. 

It took fashion’s open gifting secret – of sending out increasingly elaborate but not entirely useful items for free to influencers and editors with sometimes disproportionately low paychecks – and turned it on its head. 

Sienna Miller Y2K
Sienna Miller in the 2000s
Sienna Miller Chloe FW24
and after the Chloé show.

It took an alleged fashion faux pas – where two attendees wear the same piece – and made it cool, rather than stressing on concocting grotesque guest outfits for hundreds of thousands of dollars, only for them to end up with an inflated price on eBay. 

A simple wedge, on the other hand, that translates regardless of individual tastes and styles? Pure genius, harking back to the days when an it-bag was the validating blue tick among front-row editors, reaping an almost sybaritic sense of delight to the user.

After all, how much more useful is an everyday clog than a Fendi-branded leather Chupa Chups holder?


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