Two’s a Trend: Couture Sneakers

I realize that the saying usually goes “three” but when considering couture sneakers, isn’t even one a trend?


I don’t know why when I think about couture season in Paris I expect to be shocked. Couture is never really about the excessive grandiosity (though the price-upon-request tags should suggest otherwise) that I have naively tethered to it so much as it is about the art of the craft — a celebration of the specialists who, with their repertoire of unique skill sets, allow for such a season to subsist.

I do, however, know that one of two things is happening relative to couture. Either ready-to-wear collections, like those of both Vika Gazinskaya and Rosie Assoulin, are becoming more elaborate — highlighting the techniques of the anterior specialists who use not machines but their hands in a capacity that current consumer-driven clothing has not, or the bi-annual season that takes place in Paris is stripping away the layers (pun intended) to be considered in line with their more marketable, four-per-year-collection counterparts.

This isn’t to say that the garments are getting any cheaper but where wearability is concerned (and it always is), the current season appears to function as a sequel to the one that came last July, which purportedly came as a result of Raf Simons’ success at Dior the season before. Make sense?

A brief interlude for context: when Raf Simons took command at the House of Dior in 2012, he focused not on what would elicit the most exagerrated gasp but on what would please both the eye and pocket for his first couture collection. As a result, the house saw a 24% spike in made-to-order goods.

Last season, I conjectured that his success may have propelled change for his contemporaries thus resulting in a more functional season (jeans at Margiela, lace slips at Valentino, blazers at Armani) of couture clothing. But in a particularly curious change on the trajectory of gourmet fashion, both Christian Dior and Chanel showed sneakers with their collections this week.

Where Simons for Dior only implemented his comfortable footwear on three models, Karl Lagerfeld deigned not to subject his women to the wrath of heels at all. Interestingly, that decision did not deflect the allure of the clothes which were still dramatically in line with the Chanel ethos — perhaps in fact projecting only the future version of this woman. But why did the designers couple their looks with athletic footwear to begin with?

Karl Lagerfeld’s Spring 2014 show for Chanel and the selection of white dresses embellished by graphically inserted palettes of varying colors of paint made one blaring comment on the relationship between life and art — that the former imitates the latter. In the case of this week and couture, his collection reversed the point, using the fundamentals of couture season — the artistry of fashion — to suggest with just the right dose of irony that art imitates life.

When scrutinizing a selection of clothing that has been rightfully typecast for its spectacular but predictable use of hand-stitched beadwork, embroidery and embellishment (this conversation may hearken back to the one we had last week on whether gowns are “fashion”), maybe the deliberate choice for sneakers offer that inexplicably expected sense of shock value I look for in couture. Or, you know, maybe the models just demanded a respite from the bodices and pounds of paillettes.

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  • Bodil Huisman

    Love the upcoming combination of couture and sneakers. I think, when it’s styled in the right way, it looks great together!

    Love Bodil,

  • i like the fact that sneakers are becoming such a great part in the whole fashion industry x

  • Liz

    I think the progressively minded (except for the Nazi sympathizing) Coco Chanel would approve.

    • Leopoldine Dumas

      Lol, she hated mini skirts because it shows knees, she hated denim and she hated Paco Rabbane for the futuristic dresses he made for Françoise Hardy in the 60s. I, personnally, think she would despise sneakers… amongst other things (most things?) in nowadays fashion and nowadays Chanel.
      I liked the show but I’m not fond of the sneakers. I thought Sébastien Tellier was amazing.

  • Do you think we will start seeing movie stars show up to the red carpet in a gown and sneakers??

  • monkeyshines
  • ilze

    I really hate you all for putting links to your webpages in your comments. I’m sorry (that you started it)

  • I would absolutely wear a pair. Function and Fashion need to meet more often.

  • Sarita Williams

    I love the incorporation of sneakers with the couture. I wrote about this interesting combo yesterday and would love to get your opinion on it.

    I love your insightful fashion posts.


  • Rach

    Sneakers making their way to couture is great. Love to see their take on how to style them up.

  • runway2street

    great article. Not sure I like the couture+sneaker pairing though – prefer oxfords for shock value.

  • Bella

    I’m old. I don’t wear sneakers outside of the gym. I can always think of footwear I like better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  • Ruth

    Oh dear. Am beyond pleased that my perfect shoe has finally made it to the runway! At last! Thank you Mr. Lagerfeld, thank you!

  • what a great interpretation of the shows..the sneakers were a great shock value to the audience and if they did not cost an arm and a leg i would be running to get them

  • This is awful. Not your eloquently written piece, but those. Horrid. Shoes.

  • Andrew

    The couture collections have officially stopped giving any fucks.

  • I like it! I think it will be a succes!


  • Kristen

    I love sneakers and I’m all for wearing them but (I’m sorry Karl) but those are the ugliest sneakers I’ve ever seen

  • Trendisa,com

    I don´t really find it very feminine. Nothing more elegant like a pair of heels. Anyway for a casual look there are quite nice.

  • Rosa


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  • Lindsay B

    This is an interesting trend, and it sorta reminds me of the sneaker wedge trend ( that caught on a little bit fall of last year. Do you think this will be practical for every day people?

  • Anna

    This is so cool. This is definitely one of my favorite Chanel lines. Karl is a genius.

  • soledude345
  • This is such a unique and innovative trend that truly surprised us! Flat shoes can be so much more comfortable. L’ezu Italian leather ballet flats are the best for both style and comfort!

  • Quinn

    Check out my made-to-order custom sneakers on Instagram, QustomQuinns. It’s art on your feet! Pro-sneaker trend.

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  • the mixture of these dress is perfect and ideal. the styles and designs pattern are magnificent both as cambric dress collection