THE RED IDENTITY
Pensée shoe of 1992 is the first red sole being known worldwide.
Shoes have attained an iconic, almost sacred dimension, and today, there’s a kind of idol worship around the shoe as an object.
— Christian Louboutin, the internationally renowned footwear designer
Red has many types of definitions, but there is one that none will argue about. Just a peek, whether man or woman, will be enchanted by this shade of red. This red – red sole, to be precise – is named as Christian Louboutin.
Taking three years to realize, Christian Louboutin finally launches his retrospective at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris! Christian Louboutin: L’Exhibition[niste] – curated by Olivier Gabet, Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs – is considered as the largestever exhibition of this internationally renowned footwear designer. A journey to probe into his thirty years of largerthan-life imagination is filled with his iconic creations, key inspirations, artworks of personal collection and loans from public collections.
Christian Louboutin, at a young age, is used to exploring the tropical aquarium of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, which inspires him of the Maquereau shoe creation. Its metallic leather along with fish-skin design never slips one’s memory.
Curiously, why is this unprecedented exhibition of Christian Louboutin held at the Palais de la Porte Dorée instead of central Paris? Retracing his birthplace provides a clue. Born in the 12th district of Paris, close to the Palais de la Porte Dorée, he has been fascinated by its architectural beauty and ornamental richness since childhood. Its tropical aquarium even attributes to the inspiration of his first design – metallic-leather Maquereau shoe.
When visitors enter the museum, a sign will immediately come in view: “Visitors are forbidden to wear high heels on the museum’s parquet floor.” Christian Louboutin reveals that this sign sparks his shoe obsession, and therefore Pigalle shoe.
The exhibition spans through 11 chapters that showcase an enormous selection of Christian Louboutin’s finest creations, including red soles that have never been on public display, past collaborations with craftsmen in Bhutan, Senegal, India, and Mexico, as well as custom shoes crafted for the likes of the burlesque star Dita von Teese, the photographer David Lynch and the musician Mika.
Among all, I fall for a few red soles in particular; one of which is the Maquereau shoe mentioned earlier. Christian Louboutin, at a young age, is used to spending hours mesmerised by the luminous fish at the tropical aquarium of the Palais de la Porte Dorée. Maquereau shoe then springs from his frequent exploration. Made of metallic leather, engraved with fish-skin design… this surreal-looking shoe leaves an imprint on visitors’ memory.
Another one is Pensée shoe of 1992, the first red sole being known worldwide. This vintage is a homage to Andy Warhol’s 1960s Flowers paintings, winning the hearts of all his worshippers such as Princess Caroline of Monaco – wearing at the Bal de la Rose in 1995. No surprise, die-hard red-sole lovers are quite appealed to its remake created by Christian Louboutin himself in recent years.
The last chapter is «Imaginary Museum», shedding the light on Christian Louboutin’s sources of inspiration and reference. Artworks ranging from Wedgwood porcelain to Oscar Niemeyer Marquesa chaise, connect the exhibition to the museum’s history.
Personally speaking, the red soles designed by Christian Louboutin may not be the most comfortable pairs in the world, but their originalities trump everything. Christian Louboutin coats the soles in a striking shade of red, as if giving an identity to his label. When one can see the soles, they are highly drawn to the red identity.
Christian Louboutin, the internationally renowned footwear designer