When you ruminate on Chanel’s most iconic pieces, of course handbags jump straight into view. Who can deny the decades-long tenure of a quilted 2.55? But if you put down the arm candy and step away from the tweed, there’s a new Chanel icon rising up the ranks. One that encapsulates French Riviera dressing better than any other piece on the rail. Welcome to the reign of the Chanel espadrilles: an item that is searched for between 10,000 and 100,000 times a month, according to Google Analytics—with April being its peak moment.
As soon as the sun bursts through the clouds of early spring, you’ll see the leaders of the style set, from fashion buyers and editors to street style stars and A-listers, all breaking out their trusty Chanel espadrilles; aka, the official shoe of the summer. Chic yet comfortable and inimitably elegant (especially for a flat), there’s no other shoe that strikes the balance between style and sensibility quite so well.
No wonder then, Chanel espadrilles are fast becoming one of the fashion house’s must-have pieces each and every time the summer season starts to come around. So to make sure you’re in-the-know about summer’s cult shoe, keep scrolling for your complete guide to buying and styling Chanel’s iconic espadrilles.
Every icon has one, so where does the story of Chanel's espadrilles begin? Despite the classic non-branded espadrille itself dating back to the 14th century (granted, before Coco Chanel’s time), and becoming fashionable in the 1940s thanks to Lauren Bacall’s Key Largo wardrobe, the Chanel espadrilles didn’t debut until 2013. Long after Yves Saint Laurent had made wedge espadrilles popular in the 1970s.
An evolution of the classic Chanel ballet flat, Karl Lagerfeld’s S/S 13 espadrilles teamed a pastel canvas upper with the interlocking Cs logo and an almost-gold toe cap. But as with all things Lagerfeld, things moved fast from there. The introduction of the now famous leather version from the Parisian fashion house changed the game for summer footwear forever—buttery soft, chic, durable and great for the city as well as the beach? Oh Karl, you really do spoil us!
The current resort and spring collections feature a hot medley of quilted lambskin, patent leather toe caps and sequins, plus impressively delicate cut-outs channeling a broderie anglaise effect. So if you’re yet to join the gang, now’s the time to strike.
Notoriously, Chanel still opts out of the online retail scene. That means if you want to treat your feet to a pair of Chanel espadrilles, they’re going to have to carry you straight to a Chanel boutique.
In London, you’ll find Chanel stores on Sloane Street, New Bond Street and Brompton Cross, as well as the concession boutiques in Harrods, Selfridges and Heathrow Airport. Price-wise, you’re looking at leather espadrilles starting at £495 and climbing to £590 for this season's standout pair in tweed and PVC (see below), while the canvas styles start at £475. Of course, you could be savvy and snap up a second-hand pair on a website like Vestiaire Collective, but it would appear that this one shoe style tends to hold its value, with pre-loved espadrilles going for close to the £500 mark.
How to Wear Chanel Espadrilles
Just like all things Chanel, the list of espadrille fans is endless. From supermodels including Gisele Bündchen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kendall Jenner and Alessandra Ambrosio to street style stars Chiara Ferragni and Aimee Song, the cult footwear has graced the feet of many a fashion VIP. Which just proves our point that with Chanel espadrilles—you really can style them with anything.
Skinny denim and a blazer? Fancy haute couture? Keep scrolling for four ways to wear your Chanel espadrilles in 2018.
Skinny Jeans + Blazer
Smart denim, checked blazer and a white blouse with statement cuffs; add Chanel's sleek black espadrilles and you've got office dressing sorted.
Chanel's nude leather espadrilles? The perfect pair of flats to compliment a pretty summer dress, as demonstrated by Tallia Storm at Paris Couture Fashion Week.
If you're an all-black-everything kind of girl, Chanel's nude espadrilles with black toe caps are the perfect alternative to summer sandals.
Fed up with sneakers? Switch them out for leather or lace-up espadrilles, and team with a playsuit like Kendall Jenner in Cannes.
Feeling inspired? Take a look at our edit of the best Chanel espadrilles to invest in this season in the gallery below.