In October Karl Lagerfeld propelled the Spring-Summer 2017 Ready-to-Wear collection into an ultra-modern world. Between rows of metallic cupboards that made up the monumental Data Center CHANEL housed beneath the nave of the Grand Palais, graphic silhouettes adorned with iridescent details and LEDs, ballerinas on their feet, zoomed towards their ever connected lives. In CHANEL’s stylistic grammar, functionality and freedom of movement have since the earliest collections, always been tutelary values. When Gabrielle Chanel appropriated menswear codes with the tweed jacket, cashmere sweater, the trousers and ankle boots not to mention sportswear with her offering of a sailor top in jersey, she also prefigured the introduction of this ballerina, elegant and comfortable shoe into the House vocabulary.
Inspired by the world of dance and gymnastics, the ballerina first appeared at CHANEL in the Spring-Summer 1984 Ready-to-Wear collection. Karl Lagerfeld, who had been at the helm of the House for a year, drew inspiration from a two-tone slingback designed by Gabrielle Chanel in 1957. His design, a graceful ballerina in beige – to length the leg – with a black toe – to shorten the foot – was worn by Inès de la Fressange and presented to the public in an advertising campaign shot by Helmut Newton. Created in versions that were quilted, embellished with interwoven chains or finished with camellias – all references to iconic CHANEL motifs – the ballerina was a regular feature in the Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear collections of the 1980’s.
Over the following decade it would change style and colour, and just like the iconic handbags, the ballerina would appear on countless runways ultimately becoming a CHANEL must-have. Every new season brings its own variation. A bow, a slingback, stamped with a double C, in silk satin, in velvet, lace or tweed, in smooth, metallic or patent leather, block coloured or two-tone, high or low cut… the ballerina suits all styles and is there for every moment in a woman’s life.
The silver PVC version with a black gros-grain toe is one of the key pieces from the Spring-Summer 2017 Ready-to-Wear collection. It also comes in fuchsia-burgundy, navy-black and as a powder pink quilted version. For day and for night, the ballerina carries in it the singularity of CHANEL style, timelessly and in the air du temps of every era.