Last Saturday my friend and I visited a mini paradise; a shoe exhibition at the Design Museum in London. This exhibition celebrates 20 years of the iconic Christian Louboutin – his designs and his inspiration. As we entered the foyer of the museum, anticipation and excitement rippled through us. In preparation we had both worn heels – mine being the new LK Bennett wedges mentioned in my last blog being that sadly I do not own any Louboutin’s yet! Thanks to an article in Look Magazine I have however treated myself to a pair of Louboutin lookalikes from Zara.
We walked up the stairs to the exhibition, our appetite being wet by a selection of Louboutin shoes hanging in hula hoops. The glamour and the indulgence greats you straight away as you enter the exhibition with a plush, red carpet under foot and a magical carousel with cushions displaying shoes, rather than the usual horses. There is a mini theatre set up with a hologram of a sparkly shoe which transforms into Dita Von Teese performing a burlesque show. This is in honour of showgirls, who Louboutin claims inspire many of his designs. Luxuriously covered red chairs are available to sit and watch the show and in front of the stage are many of his shoes with the lights behind set in gold oyster shells. The gold shoes worn by Carrie in the second Sex and the City movie twinkled like cheap glitter shoes never can.
The desire to touch the shoes is overwhelming and it took all my strength to resist. His designs truly are beautiful. My friend had joked beforehand that she better escort me to hold me back from breaking the displaying cabinets and running off with the shoes! I guess they had prepared for that possibility by only putting out one of the pair. One thing that caught my interest was the attention to detail he places on getting the curvature of the shoe perfect in order to lengthen a woman’s legs and show them in the best possible light. He sees shoes as being quite sexual and uses transparent materials such as lace in some designs to suggest nudity and make the shoe at one with the body i.e. invisible. He claims “If there was to be just only one fetish element in a woman’s wardrobe, I think it would have to be her shoes.” There is a fetish section of the show where the shoes are more like sculptures than something to wear.
Now whether you are into shoes or not, most people know that Louboutin uses a trade mark red sole to identify his shoes and there was a court case with Yves Saint Laurent in 2011 when he tried to use red soles. A debate ensued over whether a colour could be trade marked however it appears it can what with Tiffany blue and Cadbury’s purple but it is the colour being used in a specific context rather than the colour itself. What is interesting however is that some years before this in 2002 Louboutin actually did a design collaboration with YSL for the final YSL couture show.
Louboutin’s journey to become the icon he is today is somewhat fascinating. He was born in France in 1963, the only son to French parents with Cameroonian heritage. He had three sisters (bet you wish your brother designed shoes!) He was expelled from school on numerous occasions and ran away from home aged 12. He worked backstage at Folies Bergères as his first job and was captivated by costume and set design at the cabaret. Louboutin believes his love affair with shoes began with a visit to Musée national des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie where he saw a sign from Africa forbidding women wearing high heels through fear they may damage the wooden floors. He wanted to develop shoes to give power to women. He sketched many shoes in his early teens. He spent time in India and Egypt; the influence of which can be seen in some of his shoe designs.
He went on to be Roger Vivier’s apprentice and then freelanced designing shoes for many couture houses including Chanel. He abandoned shoes to become a landscape gardener for a brief period. This change of direction is reflected in the exhibition where some shoes are displayed on stone plinths inside a topiary archway. His first boutique opened in Paris in 1992. It is claimed that he made stilettos popular once again.
There is a section of the exhibition dedicated to his shoes that have not been massed produced but rather made in their hundreds or on occasion just one pair. I was left spellbound by his unique imagination. There were shoes with heels containing real flower petals, shoes made of fish skin or sardine tins and even some designed to look like a Rolls Royce.
We came out of the museum to a warm, sunny day by the River Thames. Its days like this that I truly appreciate how awe inspiring London can be.
Not wishing to end the decadence of the morning we rounded off the trip at All Bar One by the Thames for lunch and I ordered salmon fishcakes along with a Martini Royale. This is Prossecco mixed with Martini Bianco and I highly recommend it as a very refreshing, citrus summer tipple.
Last Sunday was my baby niece’s first birthday party. I really don’t know where that year has gone. I couldn’t resist buying her these striking red shoes amongst other gifts.
My boyfriend couldn’t quite fathom the fuss I made over making sure the correct size and style was ordered and uttered the unmentionable line ‘they are only shoes.’ Clearly he doesn’t realise the importance of putting her in the right shoes from a young age. Shoes finish off an outfit.
Talking of outfits, for the birthday party I selected a pale pink dress fromRiverIsland; the top half of which is covered in lace, gold sparkle heels and accessorised with a light pink rose flower garland which fascinated the babies.
As this is quite an innocent, girly look I decided to compliment it with light makeup. I used Benefit ‘That Gal’ face primer to start; my staple as it ensures my Max Factor foundation goes on smoothly and evenly. I then brushed over Max Factor powder to prevent shininess and a light dusting of No 7 sultry glow bronzer. I used Rimmel mascara and a pinky French Connection lip-gloss completed the look.
I continued the royal theme of June and made princess cupcakes for the party.
So that’s it from me for this time. The exhibition remains open until 9th July and I highly recommend it; one of the best £10 I have ever spent. Why not go this weekend? For further information follow the link below. In the meantime I would love to hear about your favourite Louboutin designs.