Last week the Christian Louboutin retrospective at London’s Design Museum finally packed up its bags (and shoes) and closed its doors to the public, but not without first gaining the distinction of being the museum’s most popular exhibition ever, with an average attendance of almost 1000 visitors per day. Celebrating the French shoe designer’s twenty-year career, the exhibition artfully showcased enough shoes to satisfy even the twelve dancing princesses while educating visitors about the design process and the history of Louboutin’s illustrious career.Renowned for his red soles, legend has it that Louboutin originally stumbled across the idea by painting the underside of some women’s shoes with red nail polish (it is befitting that he will be releasing a nail polish collection later this year). And whilst the trade mark Louboutin Chinese Red is often the focus of his work (and lawsuits), the exhibition was a reminder that Louboutin is first and foremost a craftsman with a vivid imagination.
From shoes shaped like cars and paws to jeans and torture implements (see the slideshow below), the retrospective unveiled his design process (particularly with a mocked up workroom, above) and inspirations, which include travelling (there was an adorable picture of Louboutin with Diane von Furstenberg in India, from earlier in the year), burlesque (a hologram Dita von Teese) and fairytales (an orchard-like indoor gazebo featured shoes on plinths, although sadly not the recently-unveiled Cinderella shoes). For those who can actually afford to collect Louboutin shoes, the exhibition provided an intimate look into the designer’s world. For the rest of us, it made an enchanting change to salivating in Selfridges’ shoe gallery.
Most titillating of all was not, in fact, the fetish room, which displayed Louboutin’s more unwearable creations modelled by dancers from burlesque show the Crazy Horse and photographed by artist David Lynch, but the gift shop, where I proceeded to ogle a Louboutin coffee table book and some temporary tattoos, before settling for a collection of postcards (above).
Did you visit the Christian Louboutin retropsective? If so, let me know what you thought!