The Chuck Taylor Converse All Star, a design that dates back to 1917, has lived its near century-long life in a perpetual state of reinvention. What was first a humble little basketball shoe later became the flatly iconic footwear of the grunge and punk movement, worn and scrawled upon by the likes of the Ramones, Kurt Cobain, and their countless anti-jock worshippers. In the 2000s, rapper Wiz Khalifa named his label, Taylor Gang Records, after his beloved sneakers.
High fashion loves its Chucks, too, and the avant-garde Paris-based label Maison Martin Margiela is the latest to collaborate with Converse. In this one-of-a-kind spin on the classic, Chuck Taylors and Jack Purcells are drenched in MMM's signature white paint—covering eyelets, canvas, laces, and soles. The idea is that the top coat will chip and fade with wear, exposing the underlying canvas colors of navy, black, red, and Margiela-exclusive vintage yellow. The more they're worn, the more the sneakers' true colors are revealed.
"The Maison has always been obsessed with white. It is used as a layer to give an incognito feeling. A sort of poetry, with the passage of time, the shoe asserts itself," according to Maison Martin Margiela, which was founded in 1988 and has long been known for its experimental aesthetic.
The Unlimited Magazine created a little game on their site based on the design. You use your cursor to scratch at an image of the white-painted MMM Converse, scuffing it up to reveal what the shoe might look after months of wear. Margiela also released a film to celebrate the collaboration, featuring flying Chucks being slo-mo dunked in paint and shedding trails of confetti and flowers.
Previous couture and Converse collaborations include Givenchy’s "Converse Addict" series, in a high-gloss black-on-black leopard print; Vena Cava’s Native American art-inspired hivisu prints, profits from which are donated to AIDS prevention charity (RED); and designs by John Varvatos and Missoni.
The classic star logo was designed by basketball player Chuck Taylor, whose signature also graces the rubber heel. The athlete could never have imagined the hundreds of colorful, sequined, studded, and wedge-heeled renditions of his sports shoe on the market today. Margiela's latest builds on this long, creative tradition, and is sure to inspire at least a few DIY versions, a slam dunk (into white paint) for those averse to designer prices.
The Margiela + Converse collaboration is available in Converse and Margiela stores for $200 on September 20.