Christian Louboutin first coated a shoe sole with red nail polish. This trademark flash of red has since become a status symbol, instantly recognisable and instantly desirable.
It is more than the blood red leather bottom that has placed Louboutins in the shoe stratosphere. His shoes are breathtakingly beautiful - from simple heeled pumps to jewel encrusted slingbacks, each pair has an almost sculptural quality.
These are shoes that people will go to great lengths to obtain, saving their wages for months on end or even resorting to corporate embezzlement. They provoke an irrational lust. There is said to be one customer who owns more than 6,000 pairs of the shoes. Quite a financial feat when considering even the lowest priced Louboutins will set you back £325.00.
Madness, eh? They’re just shoes, right? Shoes that have become embedded in our collective psyche and become visual shorthand for glamour, sex and success. It may sound like hyperbole of the highest order, but there’s a lot to be said for Louboutins as wearable art.
The artistry of Christian Louboutin’s designs will be celebrated at the Design Museum London's retrospective of the French designer. The exhibition opens on Tuesday 1 May and forms the centrepiece of the company’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
Curator, Donna Loveday has been granted access to Louboutin’s personal archive, enabling her to tell the story of how a rebellious boy from Paris went on to create a global super brand.
Shoes will be displayed alongside drawings and designs. There will be a focus on the theatricality of the shoes, linking with Louboutin’s internship at the Folies Bergères and love of showgirls and music halls.
The exhibition promises to be full of exquisite shoes; studded sneakers, sparkling stilettos and breath-taking bejewelled pumps. It will also look at how Louboutin creates shoes that embody power, glamour and elegance.
Can't wait until Tuesday for your Louboutin fix? This whimsical little video from Net-A-Porter gives a fairytale introduction to the fantastical world of Christian Louboutin:
Christian Louboutin at Design Museum, London
1 May – 9 June 2012
Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD
Opening:10.00 -17.45 daily. Last admission: 17.15
Admissions: £10.00 Adults, £9.00 Concessions, £6.00 Students under 12s Free.
Telephone: 0870 833 9955, www.designmuseum.org
Images by photographer Phillippe Garcia from Christian Louboutin Book published by Rizzoli<