Game, set, match: The hottest high-fashion tennis looks in history
This photo essay is part of a series of features, set against the backdrop of the 2016 French Open, celebrating French style today. See more here.
What do Anna Wintour, a jet-setting Slim Aarons subject and a quirky Wes Anderson character have in common? Really stylish tennis outfits of course. The tennis look, with its classic iconography and crisp miniskirts has long been a hit among the glamorous and eccentric.
With the international rise of the "athleisure" trend -- meaning luxury sportswear you want to wear all day— tennis has become a reoccurring reference of choice on the Paris catwalks of late.
"Wearing sportswear on the street hasn't always come as naturally to the French as it does to North and South Americans, so the trend is only really catching on now" says Iza Dezon, a trend forecaster at Peclers Paris.
"We're seeing a general progression towards healthy lifestyle in Europe. A new generation are catching up and embracing the idea that beauty is not just exterior. The athleisure movement comes from a greater desire to show that you're taking care of yourself on the inside too, balancing your lifestyle, diet, and fitness options; embracing the idea that a woman is most beautiful when she is comfortable."
Along with Kanye West and Celine's Phoebe Philo, Parisian fashion blogger and journalist Camille Charriere has been credited with bringing back Adidas' classic Stan Smith tennis trainers. "I've always been keen to reference sportswear as part of my daywear, especially tennis," says the much-photographed Charriere.
"Stan Smiths are everywhere now, so I'm moving on to other favorite references, like tennis dresses and polo shirts. French designers like Jacquemus and Lacoste do these best," she adds.
All eyes will be on fashion's favorite sport as the French Open kicks off this week. There's unusual room for creativity at Roland-Garros, where players can wear colorful outfits not always permitted on court. At Wimbledon, players may wear no more than a single trim of color around the neckline.
The tone for the season has been set by Parisian designers playing on the courtside look. For Spring-Summer 2016, Hermes showed drop-waisted silk dresses and short jumpsuits, reinterpreting the outfits of 1920s female players with the house's typical French restraint.
And from the old guard to the new generation, Paris's young design star Simon Porte Jacquemus, who draws inspiration from childhood summers in the South of France, is known for his playfully deconstructed tennis dresses worn with white socks and sneakers.
Meanwhile century-old French sportswear label Lacoste served up strong references to the brand's heritage for its SS16 catwalk collection. Creative Director Felipe Oliveira Baptista sent graphic, functional, modular looks topped with colorful visors festooned with ribbons, a nod to the upcoming of the Rio Olympics for which Lacoste will dress the French team.
Lacoste has also been a historic partner of Roland-Garros for over 40 years, bringing out a yearly textile line for the tournament. This season's co-branded capsule collection pays tribute to the brand's founder Rene Lacoste, the five time singles and doubles winner at Roland-Garros for whom the current stadium was built. The collection also celebrates the timeless elegance of 1920s tennis champions.
But if that's not enough motivation, the options for more functional tennis fashion have multiplied lately. Stella McCartney and Adidas are among several collaborative efforts to make stylish sportswear you can actually play a match in. Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki will wear the Adidas x Stella Barricade collection at Roland-Garros this year. Characterized by its floral patterns and athletic design, the collection uses Climacool technology to keep players' temperature levels at bay.
Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenco has put a new spin on Nike tennis options too. His athletic designs take inspiration from '60s era haute couture while employing modern Dri-Fit mesh technology to pull sweat away from the skin. Polo Ralph Lauren, the trailblazer of fashionably preppy American sportswear, continues to create the Wimbledon collection, with every ballgirl, linesman and umpire sporting the line come July in London.
With so many leading designers back in the game, the fashion world is sure to be keeping score this week.