Chanel's $4,000 Sneakers: Pumped Up Kicks or Fashion Disaster?

Joanna Douglas
·Senior Editor

When French designer Isabel Marant created her $760 Willow wedge sneakers in 2011, she did the impossible-she made the most stylish, stiletto-obsessed women in fashion ditch their heels for comfy sneakers. It wasn't long before other designers jumped aboard the luxury sneaker bandwagon. Maison Martin Margiela's metallic high-tops with a mirror-like finish made waves in both the fashion and the music world. Missoni launched several quickly-sold-out collaborations with Converse. Fashion editors flocked to fashion week in Givenchy slip-ons. So perhaps it's about time Chanel and Dior, two of the biggest French fashion houses, entered the trendy sneaker arena with head-turning styles.

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On Monday at Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, Dior debuted several pairs of upscale sneakers that resembled aqua socks-footwear typically reserved for kids playing at the beach. Athletic brands like Nike have recently created similar foot-skimming shoe styles using high-tech fabrics like mesh and neoprene, but Dior's shoes were embellished with beads. They may not be the most practical for actual athletic activities, but Dior's designer Raf Simons actually paired them with modern, laser-cut gowns. Will chic women really shill out for this crafty footwear? In the peacocking street style world, where every shoe must be Instagram-worthy, this innovative-yet-bizarre design is sure to gain some stylish fans.

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The very next day, Chanel took perhaps an even riskier move. Designer and creative director Karl Lagerfeld outfitted every single model in a pair of chunky running shoes. According to the Chanel press release, "This season, Karl Lagerfeld plays with the House codes by mixing the ultimate feminine symbol of couture - the corset - with the ultimate symbol of sportswear - the sneaker. He infuses each silhouette with youth, energy and modernity." Each look, from edgy black cocktail attire to prim pastel tweed separates, was accessorized with traditional running shoes. Sporty and youthful? Yes. But pairing sneakers with some of the ultra-dressy frocks in such a forced way made the models look like they were on their morning commute to work.

A closer inspection of the footwear itself, however, reveals breathtaking materials and incredibly intricate design work. According to Style.com, the bespoke sneakers were crafted out of python, tweed, lace, and pearls by Massaro, an atelier owned by Chanel. Each pair of luxury kicks took a minimum of 30 hours to make and will apparently cost over $4,000. Yahoo Shine reached out to Chanel to confirm these details, but has not heard back at press time.

Model Cara Delevingne closed the Chanel show in a semi-sheer, embellished white wedding gown paired with sneakers. Bridal sneakers have become increasingly popular amongst modern brides, and if you're seeking a dressy sneaker they don't get any fancier than this. But we can't imagine the average comfort-seeking bride would shell out four grand for wedding shoes. As for the runway models, they admittedly seemed overjoyed to be wearing cushiony flats as they skipped, twirled, and glided down the runway without fear of toppling over in heels.

Between Dior and Chanel, these new sneaker iterations take casual kicks into uncharted territory. While past brands like Isabel Marant and Givenchy gave their sneakers an undeniably edginess that meshed well with street style, these seemed a bit forced on the Haute Couture runways. Perhaps the shoes would be a hit styled in a more practical way. As for those who don't have $4,000 at our disposal for athletic shoes, the knockoffs can't be far behind.

For more on designer sneakers, check out the video below.

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