I was quite late jumping on the Chanel two-tone pumps bandwagon but when I first saw the shoes a few months ago I could not help but think Chanel, what hast thou done?! While intrigued by the edgy silhouette and bold colour range, I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that the design was a complete departure from everything I have always loved and valued about Chanel footwear, namely subtlety, sophistication and grace. Yes, I know that not all of their designs fall into these categories, like the recent combat boots for example, but I view them more as an exception rather than the rule in the world of Chanel fashion.

But back to the two-tone pumps… It is fair to say, clearly I was not the only person unenchanted by the design when the shoes first came out as part of the 2019/20 Cruise collection. The online fashion commentariat seemed to be split on whether the pumps constituted an exciting new take on the classic Mary Jane style or whether Chanel completely lost the plot creating something positively hideous. Frankly, with the initial shock, my very first thoughts leaned towards the latter. However, as the time went on, I started looking more favourably at the low heel, the secure fastening of the front strap and even the daring colour combinations which became more tolerable. And of course, there was the luring promise of the utmost comfort and functionality. In the end, over the course of only a few months, my feelings towards the Chanel two-tone pumps shifted from mild repulsion to complete enthralment. Who said that a woman cannot change her mind…? And so here I am, writing a review of the rather controversial Chanel shoe creation with a pair of the red and black pumps sitting proudly in my wardrobe 😉.

Chanel two tone pumps 2019/2019 collection

Aesthetics

Mary Janes have been around since the beginning of the twentieth century and while Chanel cannot assert ownership of the design, they fashion house keenly embraced the style, as seen in multiple collections over the years. The two-tone pumps are just another iteration of the model, albeit departing from the classic and demure profile to embrace a hip, more daring shape.

The most striking aspect of the Chanel two-tone pumps is the black, block heel which starts very thick, almost in wedge-like fashion, gradually sloping downwards to create a conical contour. The piece of patent leather used in its overlay extends all the way up to shell the entire counter, i.e. the back of the shoe, as well as the leather strap. This part of the shoe also features a subtle, white CC logo positioned just by the buckle near the ankle.

Chanel tto tone pumps back view
Back of the heel with decorative stitching
Chanel two tone pumps
Side profile showing the sloping heel

There is a separate piece of patent leather covering the slightly pointed toe cap which, in most variations, has a contrasting colour of red, pink, lilac or white.

The outer sole positioned underneath the toe cap matches the colour of the uppers. In case of the red toe cap, it has a Louboutin-esque feel. The inner sole also matches the two-coloured tones of the overall design.

Chanel two tone pumps inner sole
Two-tone inner sole of the Chanel pumps
Chanel two tone pumps
Outer sole matching the two-tonal design

The Chanel two-tone pumps are available in two heel heights, namely 7cm and 9cm. The pair shown in this review has the 7cm heel as I wanted a pair which was not too high, and which could be worn for many hours. The promise of comfort was one of the main draws of the design for me. I will explore this point a bit later. [Back to Menu]

Two tone Mary Janes

Why I chose red?

When I went to the Chanel boutique, I was absolutely convinced that I was going to buy the black and white version of the two-tone pumps but when I saw them, I was somewhat underwhelmed. To start with, they just did not have the wow factor. There was also the concern that the white patent fronts would be susceptible to stains and discolouration, especially when worn outside in the often-unkind British weather (the same rationale applied to the pale lilac style).

On the other hand, I did not expect how impressed I was going to be with the red and the pink variations. What swayed me towards the red, in the end, was the fact that the pink leather was actually quite bright with a hint of the 80s neon vibe. While I loved their striking look, I was not so sure if I could get away with that much pink😉. And so I opted for the fabulous red, a tone with a hint of orange, which seemed far more versatile.

In the store, I also came across the all black (patent and calf) and the black-navy colour combinations. However these, in my opinion, did not possess even a faction of the appeal of the brighter colour duo. Plainly speaking, they looked somewhat plain and ugly, so I did not give them a second thought. [Back to Menu]

Chane two tone pumps red and black

Fit and sizing

Years of experience with Chanel footwear have taught me that their shoes run true to size and, in that respect, two-tone Mary Jane pumps are no different. Even though the shoes have a slightly pointed toe, there is no need for going up in sizing because the toe box is relatively generous. The overall fit of the pumps is snug but not too tight, so they fit just right.

For the ease of reference, my pumps which are in size 37.5 have the following dimensions:

  • Length of the inner sole length measured from the tip of the toe – 25cm
  • Width of the inner sole – approximately 7.8cm [Back to Menu]
Mary Jane pump side view

Comfort

The 2019/2020 Cruise collection was inspired by travelling and its intended focus was not just elegance but also functionality and comfort. In fact, the vow of comfort was one of the leading forces of Chanel’s marketing campaign. While I usually take promotional statements with a big pinch of salt, admittedly I was quite intrigued by the confidence with which Chanel proclaimed the merits of the design. The promise of quality footwear which can be worn for hours has always resonated with me and so, unsurprisingly, it turned out to be the key factor contributing to my decision to acquire a pair of the two-tone pumps in the end.

In fairness, as far as comfort goes, the shoes have not disappointed. Although my experiences with Mary Janes have not always been positive, Chanel pumps turned out to share none of the usual problems attributable to the design. My main reservations revolved around the toe cap which I expected to be tight and pinch or cut into my skin once the foot swelled up after a few hours of wear. Strangely, or indeed luckily, this was not the case at all. Even though the shoes are made of patent leather, which is far less malleable than calfskin, the toe cap feels relatively soft. After a few hours of intensive wear all you can feel is mild pressure on your toes but, by no means, pain.

My second concern related to the profile of the heel. More specifically, I was worried that the sharp angle of the heel’s conical shape would provide insufficient support for the foot, causing wobbles and slipping, and even lead to a sprained ankle.  Despite the precariously looking heel, I was quite amazed how stable the Chanel two-tone pumps really felt. The upper part of the relatively low, 7cm heel is very chunky, propping up the foot and offering a good balance while walking. What also helps is the fastening strap which provides additional support and holds the foot firmly in place. To be honest, I was so uncertain about the sharp heel that prior to venturing outdoors for the first time I tested the shoes on my treadmill at home for about 30minutes, just to see if they were safe to walk in at pace. I know this sounds crazy, please don’t judge me, but I really did not trust them!! Happy to confirm that the two-tone pumps passed the treadmill test with flying colours.

One aspect definitely contributing to the comfort of these Chanel two-tone pumps is the reasonable heel. It is higher than a kitten heel, and so it has the effect of subtly elongating legs, but not high enough to put excessive pressure of the foot. Thanks to this reasonable height the design can be worn for longer periods. The good news is that those who prefer high heel shoes can always opt for the 9cm style but to me, the 7cm heel makes these Mary Janes very practical.

Are the two-tone pumps the magical footwear which can compete with trainers or flats when it comes to the busy, on-the-go days? The answer is almost, but not quite. While notably very comfortable, if you are on your feet for 4-5 hours and especially doing a lot of walking, you may start feeling some pressure on the ball of your foot. The outer sole is relatively thin so it provides limited cushioning, unfortunately. However, the pressure is not intolerable because the heel is quite low, resulting in some discomfort rather than pain. [Back to Menu]

Chanel two tone Mary Janes

Durability and practicality

While the shoes have not been in my possession for too long, only a few outings were enough to realise that the pumps would require ongoing care and maintenance in order to retain that striking and fabulous look. The ever so shiny patent leather, which gives the shoes the wow factor, has some serious downsides, notably the marking. Unfortunately, the patent used in the Chanel two-tone pumps is very prone to smudges, fingerprints and water marks (e.g. from rain) so it necessitates near-constant polishing to make them look presentable. Even putting them on leaves fingerprints on the shiny black patent so you will end up incessantly wiping them clean, which can become mildly annoying.

My second issue with the Chanel Mary Jane pumps revolves around the potential longevity of the leather. It is quite apparent that the patent uppers have a tendency for stretching, as already demonstrated by toe marks and creases in areas of the highest impact. Because the front caps bend with every step this, in turn, has the effect of putting continuous pressure on the delicate patent, potentially resulting in the leather developing cracks at some point.

Chanel pumps crack close up
A close up on the crease developing in the patent leather

I really hope I am totally wrong here, and that the patent toe box turns out to be very durable, as the shoes are very expensive. However, from the way the uppers have been responding to movement so far, I have a sneaky suspicion they might go down the route of the Ferragamo patent leather and end up splitting. There is also the question whether they are prone to scuffs and scratches although, in fairness, I have not observed any yet. I will keep you apprised of any issues which may come to light later, affecting durability of these beautiful shoes. [Back to Menu]

Chanel two tone pumps red and black

Value for money

Are Chanel two-tone pumps worth investing in? The answer to this question is not that straightforward. Even though my overall impression is largely positive, they are clearly not for everyone. While notably beautiful, it is debatable whether they will have the same envy-inducing effect in 2-3 years’ time once their seasonal charm fades away. Thus, they might not be the right choice for someone considering their very first pair of Chanel pumps.

There is also the question of price. A pair of Chanel two-tone pumps is currently retailing at £870 in the UK (as of 2020). This, for shoes with a relatively limited lifespan i.e. a seasonal style with uncertain durability, may seem quite extravagant. When compared to a pair of classic Chanel ballerinas at around £600, which will be as fabulous in 3 years’ time as they are now, the two-tone pumps are an indulgent purchase. Luckily, they can be acquired tax free at a 20 per cent discount at the Heathrow airport but even with such rebate they are pushing nearly £700 which is a lot!

Having said that, the design of the new Chanel two-tone pumps is exciting and eye-catching, and once you get over the initial shock of the chunky heel they are, objectively speaking, a pretty pair of shoes. The contrasting colours and the high-shine patent leather attract a lot of attention and will earn you many compliments. Also, as far as high heel shoes go, they are very comfortable so there is a potential for frequent use, justifying the somewhat exorbitant price tag.

In conclusion, if money is no object, if comfort is the priority and if you are drawn to seasonal trends then the Chanel two-tone Mary Janes are definitely worth considering. They are, on balance, a very enjoyable luxury footwear with high quality finish and unique appearance. However, those who prefer timeless designs might find other, more classic styles, a better value for money. Overall verdict: Luxury purchase  [Back to Menu]

Chanel two tone Mary Janes

Photos by Irene Pedrosa and Unwrapped.Fashion

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