The London Design Museum presents iconic French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, celebrating a career which has pushed the boundaries of high fashion shoe design. It’s often been observed (by men, naturally) that desire defies sense and reason. These high heeled exhibits, then, qualify as true female objects of desire.


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This exhibition celebrates Louboutin’s career showcasing twenty years of designs, inspiration and red soles (oh, he does guard his Pantone 18 Chinese red soles religiously and is currently embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with YSL over their use), revealing the artistry and theatricality of his shoe design, from stilettos to lace-up boots, studded sneakers and bejewelled pumps. Be taken on a magical journey of style, glamour, power, femininity and elegance! Yes. And at the core of the exhibition is a unique exploration of Louboutin’s design process, taking 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.

The Design Museum has gone for moody lighting, cabaret music and mirrored shelving, upmarket shoe-shop style, which has the effect of exaggerating still further the heights of the heels, the drama they are supposed to cause and enjoy.

It all becomes far more interesting, if one considers that while young Christian (who had repeatedly been expelled from school) was going through a punk phase, he was in a few films, including the 1979 cult classic “Race d’ep”. Shortly after, he started working at the Folies Bergères, the caberet where he assisted the entertainers backstage. Interesting, huh?

Add to this, that it was Louboutin, who began his career by hitting the headlines, when he called high heels “pleasure with pain”, adding, “If you can’t walk in them, don’t wear them”.

Well, today he admits that his work is not about comfort, but in the engineering of the shoes – “there’s something that makes them as comfortable as possible”, says the master.

The exhibition, which will run for 10 weeks, has burlesque star Dita Von Teese star as a stunning centrepiece. Louboutin has made Von Teese, one of his most fiercely loyal customers, appear in the form of a three-dimensional holographic performance to illustrate Louboutin’s earliest design inspiration – the showgirl.


Christian Louboutin Engin Spikes Patent PVC

Christian_Louboutin Bridget Pony Leopard Lace Mesh

Christian_Louboutin Escandria Silk Satin Ruffle Detail

Christian Louboutin Eugenie Dorsay Velvet Crystal Det

Christian Louboutin Paola Botty Lace Mesh Knee

Christian Louboutin Pluminette Silk Satin Sandal Marabou Pom


Christian Louboutin – Design Museum London

Until July 1st

All images courtesy of the Design Museum, © photographer Phillippe Gracia from the Christian Louboutin book, published by Rizzoli. 

Christian Louboutin’s portrait by Stephan Gladieu.