Christian Louboutin shoes? The Design Exchange in Toronto has an epic exhibit celebrating 20 Years of Design, Artistry and Magic from legendary shoe designer Christian Louboutin.
The show is divided into sections highlighting his atelier and design studio, travel, shoe construction, boots, fetish and the central showpiece, a stage featuring his most flamboyant designs, hologram of Dita Von Teese performing striptease in honor of his shoes and velvet lounge all in the shape of his signature red sole.
Besides the spectacle, I was thrilled to learn more about the man and his inspiration. The first spark of his shoe obsession came when he viewed a warning sign in front of the Museum of Oceanic and African Art that was of a stiletto heel with a bright red mark crossing it out. It was to caution against high heels leaving scuff marks on a parquet floor, but it was the first hint of the forbidden nature of a sexy shoe.
The designer grew up watching classic Hollywood icons like Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe. His love of theatricality really blossomed after watching showgirls perform in towering heels from the wings of the Folies Bergere.
Louboutin's sense of humor definitely shows through in many of his designs, like an animal paw styled shoe or whimsical materials and motifs. There was a wall of amazing one-of-a-kind shoes from materials like fish skin or beer cans. Architecture played a great deal in inspiring the construction of other shoes.
Key moments were noted like his collaboration with Yves Saint-Laurent, which was the first time the couturier offered a collection that named a co-designer. His most popular shoe, the Pigalle is already an icon and Louboutin offers thoughts on why he thinks it succeeded. He realizes that it's simplicity makes it possible for any woman to adopt the style into her own to elevate whatever outfit she is wearing. In another part of the exhibit, he had notes on what he learned from women about the low shape of the throat of his shoes. Women had complained it exposed too much of the foot, which he didn't understand, as women wore sandals and thongs. He came to realize that the shape made wearers feel like they were exposing cleavage in the same vein as their behind or decollete in a psychological sense.
You could examine his creative process in seeing his swatch books, catalogs, sketches and a room dedicated to the different stages of how a shoe is put together. The design included the initial sketch, patterns, shoe last and stitching.
Which Louboutin design is your favorite? What does your fantasy shoe style look like?
The exhibit runs until September 15, 2013. If you can't make the show, check out more images here.