London Design Museum: Louboutin Retrospective

The London Design Museum presents iconic French shoe designer Christian Louboutin

Louboutin is a French footwear designer whose footwear has incorporated shiny, red-lacquered soles that have become his signature. He helped bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s, designing dozens of styles with heel heights of 120mm (4.72 inches) and higher. The designer’s professed goal has been to “make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as he can.” While he does offer some lower-heeled styles, Louboutin is generally associated with his dressier evening-wear designs incorporating jeweled straps, bows, feathers, patent leather, and other similar decorative touches.

This exhibition celebrates Louboutin’s career showcasing twenty years of designs and inspiration, revealing the artistry and theatricality of his shoe designs.

Image Source: Nikon D40

London’s Design Museum dedicate a retrospective to Christian Louboutin

Overall, the exhibition is exactly what you’d expect – shoes in every direction you look. But there is one thing that makes the experience special, that being a life-size hologram of burlesque performer Dita Von Teese.

Dita Von Teese, the queen of burlesque was present in spirit and in 3D version through a hologram that added so much magic to the event. The ethereal Dita stars in a unique performance wearing rhinestone embellished shoes designed by Louboutin specifically for the occasion. Before I attended the exhibition I watched the following video which shows how the hologram was created. Watch the following footage for yourself and I’m sure whether you’re a shoe lover or not you’ll want to go to find out what the real thing looks like.

Created by London company Musion for the Design Museum’s exhibition on worldwide renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin.

The rest of the exhibition takes the visitor through every stage of the design journey, revealing how a shoe is constructed, from the initial drawing and first prototype through to production in the factory. Looking beyond design and production the exhibition will also explore the company’s innovative store design.

It also highlights some of the very interesting collaborations that Louboutin has participated in over the years. Like his project with avant-garde film director David Lynch of Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, who also works as a photographer – a Paris exhibition called ‘Fetish’ in 2007, which featured images shot by David Lynch of a number of one-off designs fashioned by Louboutin.

Shoes by Christian Louboutin for Fetish exhibition with David Lynch, 2007

Courtesy of the Design Museum, photography by Luke Hayes

When you visit an exhibition and talk to people about it afterwards most people will ask you what was your favorite piece or work of art and in this case, what was your favourite shoes. Well, although Louboutin is renowned for his heels surprisingly my favorite shoes at the exhibition (seen in the mock-up workshop room) were the “Inseparables Love Flats”.

Though Louboutin himself said these shoes were inspired by the late Princess Diana (“I wanted her to always have love at her feet”), if you’re having a Roger Vivier – déjà vu, you’re in no wrong! The Inseparables Love Flats were made by Christian Louboutin in the early 90s, while he started working for Roger Vivier in 1988 and in 1991 the Christian Louboutin label was officially born.

While Christian Louboutin flats may sound like a complete nonsense, the Love Flats really did existed. 

The Venue

ADDRESS – Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YD

DATES –  01 May to 09 July

OPENING TIMES– Morning session: 10am – 1.45pm, Afternoon session: 2pm – 5.45pm, Saturday evening session: 6pm – 9.45pm