“The show is a celebration,” said Christian Louboutin. “It’s not a retrospective about my work. It celebrates collaboration but not with other brands, rather it’s an exchange of ideas with all the people who have inspired me.”
He was speaking at an exclusive press conference this morning to launch “L’Exhibition[iste],” the landmark celebration of his métier that will launch February 26 at Palais de la Porte Dorée museum in Paris.
The footwear legend chose the venue because he visited the museum throughout his formative years, and there, he became entranced by its beautiful exhibits. “It’s often the things in my head which influence my creations,” he said, “and this place always made me dream since I was a child.”
However, the museum piece that became the genesis for his entire life’s work was not one of the exhibits.
“There was a drawing displayed at the museum’s entrance saying that you were not allowed to come in wearing high heels. It featured a woman’s shoe with a really narrow, high heel,” he revealed. “I thought it was weird that they used a drawing of a shoe that didn’t exist in real life, but it made me realize that you can design something that doesn’t exist so that’s how I began designing shoes. Everything started with that drawing.”
That picture went on to inspire the designer’s iconic Pigalle shoe. And today a replica of the sign, in all its Instagrammable glory, welcomes visitors to explore the exhibition. At tonight’s launch party there was a high heel amnesty as the brand covered the museum’s delicate mosaic floor with a large red carpet.
The landmark exhibition, spanning 11 beautifully conceived spaces, provides fascinating insight into the world of the legendary red-soled brand. Ahead, the highlights of its most breathtaking and most original showpieces, available until July 26, 2020.
Take us to church
Surrounding a chamber of iconic designs, sketches and mood boards are eight specially commissioned stained glass windows. Created for the show by master glassmaker Emmanuelle Andrieux of the Maison du Vitrail in Paris, the windows dramatically illustrate the key elements of Louboutin’s work. For aficionados, shoes are a religion after all.
The larger than life Louboutin
Among the most fanciful images: a giant rendering of a synthetic crystal Louboutin shoe by Parisian sculptor Stéphane Gérard, ensconced on a silver palanquin (litter) throne fashioned by house collaborators, the Orfebrería Religiosa Villarreal in Seville, Spain, and decorated with rich embroidery by Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
No pain, no gain
Renowned Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi is known for his simultaneously delicate yet violent interpretations. For the show, he has created a dramatic, seemingly blood-splattered installation featuring a pair of shoes covered in gold leaf. No doubt a tongue-in-cheek reference to Louboutin’s oft-quoted declaration that one has to suffer to be beautiful.
Louboutin launched his famous Nudes collection in 2013. The object of the exercise was to elongate one’s legs by making the shoe appear to be a seamless extension. Centering its many incarnations is an installation by British artist duo Whitaker/ Malem, featuring nine leather nudes in the nine skin colors of the inclusive collection.
Virtual Von Teese
Amid a specially created theater flanked by gilded Bhutanese columns, visitors can marvel at an eminently lifelike hologram of the performer Dita Von Teese. Louboutin has a grand passion for performance art and, likewise, for Bhutan. Last summer she staged a Paris Couture Week presentation around a house-built, bright red train carriage, humorously dubbed the “Loubhoutan Express.” Also showcased here are shoes he made for Tina Turner and Michael Jackson.
Here’s another chance to experience Louboutin’s collaborative project with filmmaker and photographer David Lynch, unveiled in 2007. Feast your eyes on a collection of shoes definitely not made for walking. Rather, they’re for fetishistic ogling, accompanied by a series of naughty photographic illustrations by Lynch himself.
Red soles on the red carpet
Visitors can walk their own red carpet flanked by Christian Louboutin’s celebrity fans, including Naomi Campbell, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and the late Kobe Bryant. All are captured in defining moments from popular culture, such as the Met Gala, underscoring the pivotal status of the Louboutin brand at its epicenter. Lest there be any doubt.
Click through the gallery to see more photos from Christian Louboutin’s upcoming exhibit.
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