A stylish crew of admirers wearing more Louboutins than you might find at a family reunion turned up to celebrate the designer’s achievements. Jonathan Saunders,Dita Von Teese, Mary Charteris, Roland Mouret,Daphne Guinness and Henry Holland trailed Louboutin through the boudoir-like temple to his work.
‘When I think of a sexy shoe, I think of Louboutin,’ Charteris said. ‘My dream shoe is just a plain black patent court platform shoe, and I don’t think anyone else does it in the same way.’
Visitors trouped past a wall of Loub-red lasts (the forms around which the designer creates all of his shoes) and through a hallway where spotlights cast silhouettes of key shoes in bold relief.
Then came the shoes. Styles from the past 20 years perched on the seats of a miniature carousel, on tiers of mirrored glass that brought to mind showgirls’ vanity tables and on a slick red tongue of a stage in the shape of that famous sole. The themes of theatre, exhibitionism and entertainment pervaded the displays, nowhere more so than in the hologram of Von Teese performing a burlesque tease in her favourite Louboutin heels (and not much else).
‘Not only is he my friend, but I really think that he is the best at what he does in the whole world,’ Von Teese, the real, non-hologram version, told us. ‘That red sole says luxury, eroticism, fetishism, sensuality, confidence—it’s all of those things. Any woman that wears them becomes instantly more fascinating.’
If any woman felt the urge to become instantly more fascinating mid-exhibition by picking up a shoe and slipping it on, she would have learned quickly: these beauties are glued down. That's okay—these pieces may be more comfortable to contemplate in an exhibition setting than to wear, the designer suggested.
‘When I do a shoe I want a woman to look at how beautiful it looks, not how comfortable it looks,’ Louboutin said at the press conference earlier in the day. ‘Having said that, beautiful shoes don’t give you a good smile.’
Judging by the looks of rapture and on shoe fans’ faces last night, we would have to say yes—yes they do.
Click through the gallery above to see more from the exhibition opening. See the Christian Louboutin retrospective at the Design Museum until 9 July.