Its no great secret that ladies love shoes and on every girl’s wishlist is a pair of exquisite Louboutins. On a recent trip to London Burlesque Bible Editor in Chief Sally Fitzgerald could not resist popping in to The Design Museum to visit The Christian Louboutin Exhibition, here she tells us more about the extrordianary designer and why he is the showgirl’s champion.
Christian Louboutin may be best known as the designer of the iconic shoes with the painted red soles but there’s another reason why he’s many burlesque dancers’ favourite. It’s because he designs with them in mind.
When Louboutin is working on the next addition to his collection he has the outline of a naked woman at the forefront of his imagination and uses this to envisage what style of shoe would best show off her figure, and perhaps more importantly, what would help to empower that everyday woman and unleash her inner showgirl. Louboutin’s inspiration doesn’t come from the modern-day fashions that he knows will always come and go, but from the timeless beauty of showgirls and Music Hall which ensure that his shoes never date.
Louboutin’s captivation with burlesque and showgirls began at an early age. He grew up in Paris and, having left school with no qualifications, he went to work at the renowned Folies Bergere Music Hall. There he started to design shoes for the showgirls in his spare time, establishing his preference for shoes to ‘undress’ rather than ‘dress.’ After watching how the dancers performed in heels the realisation set in that the best shoes were designed to highlight and extend the leg rather than just covering the foot.
Despite moving on from his job at Folies Bergere and eventually becoming one of the world’s best loved and most respected designers, Louboutin has never lost sight of his Parisian Cabaret roots. He will openly admit that many of his designs are heavily influenced by the showgirls he used to admire in his early years, with the front of the shoe being left plain to symbolise the classic unadorned shape of the dancer’s figure, while the back of the shoe is a festival of feathers and diamantes, just like the showgirls’ feather tails. His association with this world is still so strong that in 2011 he was invited by Paris’s Crazy Horse Cabaret to be its first guest creator where he designed four original tableaux.
And of course we can’t forget Louboutin’s close association with the beautiful Dita Von Teese. Not only did he custom-make a set of delicate ballet shoes for one of Dita’s Paris tours, but she was also selected to captivate the visitors at this year’s Christian Louboutin exhibition at The Design Museum in London. As visitors gather around the mock catwalk runway lined with shoes spanning Louboutin’s career, every 15 minutes the lights dim and a hologram of a giant silver diamante Louboutin shoe appears at the end of the runway. As the shoe twirls around gradually another hologram appears, this time the instantly recognisable cinched waist of Dita Von Tease wearing the same shoes as were glittering in the air just a second before. For the next few minutes Dita dances and teases, treating visitors to a family-friendly burlesque performance oozing all the effortless glamour and elegance that the burlesque star has become famous for. It can’t just be a matter of chance that Louboutin has chosen a showgirl to become one of the highlights of an exhibition celebrating his career so far.
So if you’re lucky enough to own a pair of Louboutin’s creations, next time you slip your feet into the red-soled beauties and get ready to step onto the stage take a minute to remember that this is exactly the reason those shoes were designed. By the time you’ve embraced your inner and outer showgirl and finished your act wearing little but a few accessories and those Louboutins you’ll know you have done the designer proud.
The Christian Louboutin exhibition is on at The Design Museum in London until 9th July. For more information and details of how to visit, go to www.designmuseum.org