I already loved Louboutins, but that’s expected; what woman doesn’t love Louboutins? I loved that flash of red and all the wonder it lay beneath. But until I received the Christian Louboutin book my appreciation for the coveted shoes was more of a “if I win the lottery shopping list” appreciation. A year or so later I now have an understanding for the shoes as an art form. Each Loubi is a fairytale in its own right, a creation that has been formed through the spirals, studs and Swarovski crystals that lie in Mr. Louboutins imagination. Having matured my lust for all soles red I was ecstatic to find out Christian Louboutin was holding an exhibition at The Design museum in London.
“It’s been a real pleasure to see a lot of my ‘babies’ featured all together for the first time. It’s not only an entire collection of shoes that I saw there, but for me a huge collection of souvenirs, precious moments, and very rarely sorrows.”
After attempting to fit the visit into my crowded diary, days and weeks went by without me going. It wasn’t until the day before travelling home for summer did I realise this was my only chance to see the Louboutin extravaganza. So, as any fashion lover would, I promptly changed all my plans, said farewell to my power nap and dragged my tired self across Tower Bridge. The exhibition cost just £6 for students, plus £1 as a voluntary donation to the Design Museum. Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed in the exhibition but I had taken a few snaps on my IPhone before I was told this so I’m able to put them up. At the end of this post are some other photos from across the Internet to give you a better glimpse of what’s inside.
I was guided up a staircase towards the exhibition, in the centre suspended from the ceiling were a variety of Louboutins, circling and twinkling much like all the eyes that were gazing at them. My little heels carried me up to the top where I was met with a glorious entrance. It instantly reminded me of an old fashion show with red lights and a bright “Entrée” sign directing you to a black, mysterious entrance.
Inside the showgirl theme continued, with over 200 Louboutins balanced on carousal, a helter skelter and an oversized spinning top. Burlesque Queen Dita Von Teese also shone down on the viewers via a life size hologram that saw her dance next to dazzling crystal Loubis. I can’t stress enough how real Dita looked, it was as though she was dancing in front of us, on stage –I was mesmerised. In the centre of the main exhibition room a 17 metre long red sole provided an elegant shoe arena that displayed a dream come true amount of shoes. New collections and old, everything provided a unique insight.
“For me, the front and back of the shoe evoke the different aspects of femininity. The front is about poise, allure, stature, elegance, immobility, it’s Marlene [Dietrich] always sublime from head-on, arched foot. The back is the gait, the movement, the heel. It’s Marilyn [Monroe] who, moreover, was often shown from behind… There are these two types of women with regard to shoes – those who symbolise the look and those who symbolise the walk.”
Before I knew it I had stumbled into Mr. Louboutins Parisian atelier. The walls were covered in full-scale photographs of his actual studio bringing the room to life. I felt as though I’d fallen down a rabbit hole and landed in a storybook that would make even Lewis Carroll dizzy. I had stepped into Louboutins mind, his creative world and everything he loved and found wonderful was shown in the most ore-inspiring way. The process of the shoes being made was also shown, but seeing a bare red sole made me feel as though I’d just accidently wandered into someone undressing; I felt like I’d seen a Louboutin heel…naked! I learnt a lot about the creation of a Louboutin shoe, like how Christian designs his A/W collection in a cold climate, and then travels to places like Egypt to design S/S. Also, the first pattern is always a size 37 because Christian Louboutin “considers it preferable to look upon a small thing” – seeing as I have size 35.5 feet and stand at 5ft2 this has become one of my favourite quotes.
A short film about Louboutins life was also shown in another room, telling a charming story of his early life and what moulded his lust for shoe design. Louboutin himself talks about his love for showgirls; “Ever since I was very young I have been obsessed with spike heels, the showgirls influenced me a lot. If you like high heels, it’s really the ultimate high heel; it’s all about the legs, how they carry themselves, and the embellishment of the body. They are the ultimate icons.”
As if I hadn’t already felt spoilt enough, I was then treated to a sub-exhibit of 20 of his most iconic designs that have been re-released for his 20th anniversary. Equally iconic were his 8inch ballet pumps that were worn in Yves Saint Laurent’s final catwalk show. The sight of the heel made my eyes water and yet, somehow I could find the heart to wear them.
“I selected the colour [red] because it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable and the colour of passion”
My favourite room however was the fetish room. The risqué creations were designed for the 2007 Paris exhibition titled “Fetish” which was produced alongside film auteur David Lynch. I had previously seen the photos in the Christian Louboutin book and found them mesmerising, but nothing could have prepared me for an up close and personal look at the shoes themselves. What I love about the shoes is the meaning behind them, the idea that they prevent the wearer from physically walking instead leaving her helpless and submissive. Yet this is done in a sophisticated and classy way, not to mention pushing boundaries and contouring the foot into forms it probably shouldn’t be in. Louboutin has managed to create the power of dominatrix and submissive sexual liaisons through the use of one single item. From the shoes alone, the body is forced into positions and shapes, controlling the wearer’s entire physical movement. I think why I love it so much is that the collection goes beyond fashion, its pure design. It’s a pretty amazing thing, for a shoe to have that much power over your physical form. Forget bondage or wrist ties, Fetish Louboutins provide a new bedroom taboo that EVERYONE wants to talk about.
“Most people see shoes as an accessory to walk in, however some shoes are made for running – and some shoes are made for sex. If there was to be just only one fetish element in a woman’s wardrobe, I think it would have to be her shoes, even without being stilettos.”
Since living in London, I’ve been to countless exhibitions and many have left my heart fluttering like a lovesick puppy. But the Christian Louboutin exhibition was the most dazzling spectacle I’ve ever seen, and it’s going to take a lot to beat it! It was honestly the show of a lifetime.
Take a look at the exhibition trailer