In 1957 Chanel designed a brand new style of shoe called the ‘two-tone.’ The beige colour with a contrasting black toe cap design was meant to elongate the leg, shorten the foot and were so versatile they could be worn with anything. Also known as the Chanel ballerina, they have proven to be as timeless as ever and are still well loved today and come in an even broader variety of colours.
Coco Chanel was a pioneer of comfortable clothing and shoes for women which is another reason the ballerinas are such a hit. The soft lambskin upper and low heel line means you don’t have to go through the painful breaking in stage. Audrey Hepburn famously wore a pair in the film ‘Funny Face’ showing how women can look feminine and sexy without wearing heels which inspired many to lower their heel height, and they soon became a staple in everyone’s wardrobe.
The classic Chanel ballerinas are a regular in our atelier and often seen in a wide variety of styles and colours. We recently received two pairs from the same client; a burgundy pair with velvet uppers and another in metallic gold with dotted details on the toe cap. Both with unique qualities, our artisans were ready to give them a new lease of life.
As standard at The Restory, all items undergo a physical assessment with the atelier team to determine what services are needed to fully restore the items. On both pairs of these ballerinas, the sole was soft and at risk of forming holes should there be any further wear, the soles were heavily worn down and the insoles needed a clean. For the burgundy pair, there was staining on the leather toe tips that needed to be concealed and the metallic gold was faded and looking tired on the textured toe area and around the sides of the shoes.
To start with, both pairs of flats went to the shoe department in order to remove the original soles and heels and replace them new. To do this, our shoe specialist needs to unglue the old sole, cut and sand a new sole to match and re-attach it. The shoes then needed a simple clean to remove all the dust and the superficial dirt before it was passed onto the restoration department. We give special attention to Chanel ballerinas and provide a deep clean to the grosgrain binding that covers the edge of the shoes. Little details like this make a big difference in the final outcome.
A full remake: New soles and heels.
For the burgundy pair, we firstly needed to clean the velvet upper of the shoe. Using special products to remove dust and dirt and also to bring up the colour of the fabric, we gave the velvet a new lease of life. Cleaning velvet is a delicate process as the pile (the fluffy bits) of the fabric has to all face the same way for the colour and texture to remain consistent across the shoes, so extra care needs to be taken when washing or brushing the dirt from the material.
For the gold pair and the leather section on the burgundy pair, the next step involved prepping the leather to be worked on. Two different types of solvents were applied onto the lamb-leather uppers and the burgundy toe area which removed the deep dirt and also opened the leather in order to make the paints adhere better to it.
Another important step pre-restoration is to protect the side of the soles with masking tape in order to avoid any paint affecting them, and for the burgundy pair this was essential to protect the velvet.
Applying the paint
Applying the fillers
Restoring the gold spots by hand
The first stage in the restoration process begins with filling any scuffs with synthetic fillers. These are generally located are the tips of the toes, the heel and sometimes the sides. A couple of layers of fillers were applied and then smoothed down to reinforce the leather. To recreate the original lambskin texture is also an essential part of this process in order to make the mend invisible.
Then it was time to mix and match the colour to restore the areas that were faded. There is an infinite amount of shades of gold so when hand mixing the colour, our artisan used a mixture of antique gold and silver powder in precise proportions to get the exact shade of light gold. A couple of layers of paint were carefully applied to the leather with a soft brush to conceal the stains and faded colour whilst also keeping the soft texture of the lambskin intact.
In regards to the dotted toe pieces on the gold pair, our artisan used as a base the same mixed metallic paint from the uppers but added in some pearlescent white colour. This was important to ensure the unique shiny effect from the dots remained. The paint was then applied with a special tool and each dot was repainted by hand, one by one.
Toe caps restored
Golden dots restored
For the finishing touches, a protective finisher was applied to the leather on both shoes to match the original shine of the shoes. Lastly, the protective tape is removed and the shoes were left to dry and cure for a week before being returned home.
From standard shoe repairs to leather and colour restoration, we have a number of techniques to ensure your items are restored and back in working order to avoid simply throwing your items away. No matter the colour of your item, our artisans will hand mix the colour to ensure the result of a restoration is invisible so get in touch if you would like a preliminary quote.