“It’s not an ‘if” but a ‘will.” That’s what I said about my steely determination to get Dior’s A/W 14-5 (although inspired by their S/S 14 couture show) ready to wear embellished trainers on my feet. Thanks to the peeps at Dior, I got to try on all five styles in a ridiculously decadent session of “Eenie meenie miney mo” of what I feel are the ultimate culmination of high fashion copulating with street wear. It’s been a long time coming with high fashion crossing over into sportswear and in particular, the trainer becoming a focal point at fashion’s centre stage. Despite high fashion trainers being on the up for the past few years, with stores like Sneaker Boy benefiting from the rise of either designers like Rick Owens collaborating with sportswear heavies adidas or brands like Givenchy, Lanvin and Dior creating cult trainers on their own, in womenswear it took Chanel putting every one of their models in tweedy Massaro-crafted trainers in their last haute couture show as well as Dior trialling their beaded bounced-up sneaker soles at their couture show for people to suddenly announce that trainers have arrived. Their presence at haute couture was the final cherry on top of the already very elevated trainer.
Furthermore, what these particular Dior sneaker specimens represent to me is the rise of 21st century contrasting mix and match in fashion. High and low. Expensive and cheap. Couture and sportswear. Casual and dressy. The list goes on. These shoes embody those contrasts. Iridescent and shiny beads, sequins and paillettes on sporty mesh in black or white in theory shouldn’t work. These delicately adorned spongey uppers shouldn’t be sitting on candy pink, yellow and pristine white rubber moulded soles. Dior’s logo embossed on the side is the ultimate surprise. It’s a combination that would have been unthinkable once upon a time. Then again there was also a time when girls wearing trainers with prom dresses was frowned upon. It’s a “Shouldn’t Work But Does” mentality in fashion that has pervaded the most interesting of creators and style figures to have emerged in the past decade. Same goes for the “It’s so wrong it’s right” brigade and the Miuccia Prada aficionados who constantly question the boundaries of “ugliness”. I’m of course a whole hearted supporter of all of those sentiments much to the chagrin of fair weather Instagram commenters who persistently ask “But why do you wear things that obviously don’t go together?” What can I say? I blame it on the inner child in me constantly trying to push square pegs into round holes.
Back to the trainers though. The great thing about these shoes by Dior is Raf Simons’ own trainer pedigree he brings to the table, having had constantly produced trainers for his own Raf Simons line and also having recently collaborated with adidas to great effect. That said, in truth, they are much more like a sporty slipper with a moulded sole, rather than a trainer that you can pound miles in with your fuel band. Dior and Simons of course aren’t trying to wade into functional sportswear territory but rather they’re going for visual impact, as your eyes will try to compute beads, mesh and rubber all at the same time. It’s already confused the kids of a family living next door to me. Half the fun of them is the sheer juxtaposition of genres.
The other half of the fun is that surprisingly, these
Dior sneakers will be available in both women’s AND men’s sizing as I discovered when I went to see the pop-up installation of Dior sneaks at Dover Street Market in London, who have the exclusive right now. Guys will put an entirely different spin on these bad boys * (I know Nathan from The Provoker has been eyeing them up…). At £740 a pop, these are not kick-about, throw-away trainers. As a symbol of fashion’s genre defying, style-splintered present state though, they’re certainly worthy of attention.
*EDIT: I was misinformed. These sneakers are only available in women’s sizes. Men will have to make do with sticking sequins on their shoes. Men with small feet can venture forth.