by Chanel

by Penny Martin .

The Chanel court pump is a shoe about sport rather than one for sport.

If ever Pevsner's contentious assertion that 'form follows function' were true, it would be in the case of sportswear. Since its incorporation into the lexicon of fashion (by Claire McCardell in the US and Coco Chanel in Europe), sportswear has been in a constant state of revision. With the increasing emphasis on the business of sport over the past three decades, sportswear's materials have been twisted, perforated, plasticised, Teflon-coated and manufactured in every improbable hue, to reduce weight, improve dryness and to increase aerodynamics. In each case, a legitimate physical requirement has been transmogrified into stylistic innovation and then marketed as a fashionable commodity.

According to the logic of contemporary sportswear, this Chanel tennis shoe should be light, robust and built to support the ankle and heel. Yet one look at it will tell you that it is none of these things. The fine, green and white sandal -one wants to say 'court' shoe, though its cutaway, open-toe construction stymies the pun- would barely make it unscathed through a shopping trip in town, never mind through three sets at Wimbledon. This is because the Chanel court pump is a shoe about sport rather than one for sport.

Chanel's figurehead designer Karl Lagerfeld is hardly in the business of touting out his design skills to the sports industry. Rather, he plunders the very fabric of tennis for his own means: to play semiotic games for the entertainment of his fashion audience. A tennis net's green mesh is lifted to form a pretty, criss-cross patterned heel, whilst a miniature yellow tennis ball is threaded along the white Airtex leather straps at the front in a witty brand assertion. The bobbing Pop Art 'pendant' bears the double-linked Cs logo, which is also echoed in the rubber rivulets engulfing the ball (the average tennis ball is after all constructed out of two interlinking, hairy 'c' shapes). Assiduously aimed at the youth market Chanel is increasingly aiming to, ahem, court, the shoe demonstrates that the esteemed Parisian company understand their consumer prefers to walk before they run. And as for owning a pair? The answer could only be 'love - one'...

'Tennis Court' high-heeled sandals by Chanel at Chanel +4420 7493 5040