Everywhere, the shoes contributed to an altered silhouette: at Balenciaga, it was platform boots hobbling down the runways with bubble skirts and skinny pants; at Chloé we saw chunky, cognac-colored wedges with baby doll dresses and slouch pants. While chunky platform wedges are all over the s/s ’06 collections and campaigns, and designers from YSL to Moschino to Paule Ka are forcing the (still unproven) fashion statement, we couldn’t have predicted the deep message of high platforms to complement today’s complex styles. But Balenciaga and Chloé aren’t the only proponents of the round shoulder jackets and platform-plus-baby-doll look. The brocade-like leather clog version at Prada was an essential vehicle for moving on from the sweet ladylike feel of recent collections. The gladiator-style half boots at Louis Vuitton only added to the modern bohemian eccentricity of that collection. At Yves Saint Laurent, the platform front of his super-high heels worked well with the more aggressive spirit in his a/w ’06-’07 line. And though Terry de Havilland‘s platforms weren’t shown on the runways, they continue to see increasing sales and new retailers are vying for their platform classics. The silver and natural-colored python versions are the best this season. It seems that designers are forcing women to feel new lines of the body, and to embrace the challenge of dressing up. For this new mandate, platforms make the most forceful assertion.
Patent and velvet are two other hard-hitting trends carried over from spring to complement this new dressiness. Throw in deeply pigmented aubergines and natural-toned leathers and the full scope of the direction in shoes are highlighted for a/w ’06-’07.
Patent leather reflects the lustrous fabrics in the haute romantic styles as well as the ’60s influences engulfing current fashion. The patent thing already made sense with the brocades and chiffons we started seeing last winter, and fall’s equally opulent ’60s suggestions for outsized (and skinny) shapes call for shimmery specks of patent and velvet. It’s as though shiny patent leather brings more light to already lustrous fabrics, and gives sharp punctuation to the new skinny shapes.
Picking up on the trend, Michel Vivien’s patent leather Mary Janes (also available in black velvet) are sure to be among the most sensible purchases for the season. With three-inch heels, just the right pitch, and feminine lines, they add definitive confidence to a variety of looks. Walk that Walk mixes patent with fabric inspired by men’s ties — one of the most clever group of shoes seen this season.
Meanwhile, Max Kibardin returns with a careful second collection; curiously, he claims it was influenced by vegetables. The patent gloss on repeated curving lines in his red high heels is inspired by the curvature lines on the inside of cut red lettuce. Many other collections used patent leather for punched-up details. Carmen Ho uses it as black piping to divide the lines in her paneled flats, as does Nicholas Kirkwood, who showed a penny loafer-inspired high heel with an asymmetrical patent leather strap. Leflesh showed their signature shoulder bag in cherry red patent leather alongside leopard print shoes with patent piping details. And Robert Clergerie, in the most progressive group in his fall line, exhibited pointy-toed vinyl pumps with metal heels. Meanwhile, J. Fenestrier (stocked at Clergerie) created a new men’s classic: metallic-colored wingtips with black and brown patent tips. Sartore boasted one of the freshest concepts around. The "Rock and Roll Black Tie" story offers unisex styling entirely in patent.
Exhibiting the same rock formality and also in full trend bloom, velvet is dusted on many shoes for a/w ’06-’07. To deny the romance in the air is to deny fashion’s current imperative for experimentation. For some, the velvet shoe will prove an easy challenge, and not only in shades of black. The flats in Guillaume Hinfray’s collection (inspired by the Middle Ages) feature embroidered beading on red and purple velvet. At Renoma, the round-toe flats come in luminous midnight blue and look like just the right choice for the season. Laurence Dacade’s must-have half boot in aubergine velour is another season standout.
All three of these trends are noteworthy. If you do nothing else but wear platforms, patent leather, or velvet, you’ve already fulfilled one of the season’s key style quotas.
Balenciaga a/w ’06-’07
Louis Vuitton a/w ’06-’07
Leflesh a/w ’06-’07
Nicholas Kirkwood a/w ’06-’07
J. Fenestrier a/w ’06-’07
Guillaume Hinfray a/w ’06-’07
Renoma a/w ’06-’07
Sartore a/w ’06-’07
Michel Vivien a/w ’06-’07