The History of Chanel’s Renowned Two-tone Shoe

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Back in the 1950s, only men were spotted wearing two-tone wingtips Gabrielle Chanel created the two-tone shoe in 1957, which has now become a signature of the Chanel house. It quickly became popular with celebrities such as Catherine Deneuve, Romy Schneider, Brigitte Bardot, and Jane Fonda. Not only is the shoe versatile, it can be easily incorporated into a wear a morning to night wear. They were initially slingbacks, but have since become one of the most popular and most-photographed heels in the world. The shoes still maintain its origanl design, with the toe always in a contrasting hue. Fast forward to present times, the two toned chanel shoes come in a wide range of different colourways and copies on the high street fashion.

Gina Lollobrigida surrounded by Chanel models in 1964 Philippe Garnier / Elle-Scoop / Courtesy of Chanel

It may surprise you to know that Coco Chanel had first introduced the iconic pumps in 1937 -. 20 years before they were formally introduced. Back then the slingback shoe was invented in the 1930s and was considered inappropriate, therefore it was worn with full-length evening gowns to conceal the exposed heel. Slingbacks were also worn by pin-up ladies, adding to their risqué image.

The souliers shoe, developed by Chanel, altered how people perceive stilettos. She developed an alternative to the stiletto in collaboration with French couturier Raymond Massaro of Massaro of Paris by bringing the heel down, relaxing the strap, gently squaring the toe, and utilizing a bicolor combination. The color scheme of the shoe was well-considered, using black to abbreviate the foot and beige to lengthen the leg. In order to give women’s fashion a more youthful vibe and get rid of the rigid, unyielding silhouette that marked the era, Chanel revised her classic designs while never hiding her disdain for the dominant fashion rules.

Gabrielle Chanel and Serge Lifar in 1937 Jean Moral / Courtesy of Chanel
Marie-Hélène Arnaud is seen wearing a tweed Chanel suit from the Fall/Winter 1959-1960 collection. Courtesy of Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel designed the shoes in beige and black to prolong the shape and protect the toe from frequent wear. The slingback had a 5 cm heel, a new ally for women’s fashion, ensured stability and comfort. By offering two-tone shoes with an elastic strap and a variety of colors, the designer defied rules and emancipated women from the confines of monochrome footwear. However, Karl Lagerfeld immortalized Chanel’s two-tone shoes with his skill, ballerina pumps, sandals, boots, Oxfords, and espadrilles. In 1986, he also gave them a new life as ballerina pumps. Karl Lagerfeld improved upon the shoe with contemporary versions such as black-and-white for Spring/Summer 1994, boots for Fall/Winter 2009 Haute Couture, and riding boots for the Paris-Salzburg Métiers d’art 2014 collection. Even though Lagerfeld’s formulations have sparked renewed interest in the iconic shoe, there is nothing quite like the original, as Mademoiselle Chanel famously said in 1957: “We leave in the morning with a beige and black, we lunch with beige and black, we go to a cocktail party with the beige and black.”


Chanel Slingback leather sandal

Chanel Slingback leather ballet flats

Chanel Leather heels

Chanel Cloth heels

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