Some people attribute the current craze for sneakers to Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel couture kicks, revealed back in January for the Spring/Summer season. Although Raf Simon’s Dior, too, showed footwear clearly derived from sports (we say they look like bejewelled kungfu shoes!), it was Chanel’s that rocked the couture establishment and thrilled the fashion pack. If there’s a place in haute couture for commonplace sneaks, athletic shoes should be doing a victory dance (and they have) for the overdue recognition. The desirability quotient shot up when it was reported that those shoes were not for sale: you got the chance to buy a pair only when you ordered a couture outfit. Made by Massoro Bottier, the century-old French shoe maker behind Chanel’s wardrobe for feet—of note, the black and beige signature styles, the high fashion sneakers were each 30-hours worth of hand work, and were as intricate and lavish as the clothes.
Hanker for them no more as Chanel has released prêt-a-porter versions for Autumn/Winter 2014. These are even more striking than the earlier couture issue: less confections of fairy dust, more concoctions of disco glitter! The happy mix of tweeds and bouclés, among other materials, made us wonder if these were discards from the house’s cutting floor. As eye-catching as they are in the boutique’s window, once held in the hand, these mixed-media shoes look surprisingly conventional and feel as ordinary. It is not clear if they will perform under intense sporting conditions (well, it’s another kind of performance wear!) since it’s hard to imagine any woman wanting to put the near S$2000 shoe to test. Under the rubber sole, Chanel’s double C logo is brightly affixed, waiting for the wearer to create imprints on wet sand.
It isn’t the first time Chanel showed sneakers and certainly not the first in tweed either, but this time, they’re begging to be Instagrammed. And that, perhaps, is good enough reason to join the mad rush for them.
Chanel tweed sneakers, SGD1,820, are available at Chanel boutiques. Photo: R. Zhang