Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Christian Louboutin Retrospective Exhibition

This exhibition is a must for every shoe-a-holic out there. Not only does it showcase numerous glamorous red soled shoes, but it lets you catch a glimpse of the Christian Louboutin world and the inspirations behind the making of these beautiful creations.

Mr Louboutin's first passion was watching Cabaret shows, the showgirls and their costumes fascinated him. Household Design took this passion and incorporated it in to the exhibition layout, creating a fun and glamorous atmosphere. The exhibition takes you on a journey through Louboutin's key inspirations.

The journey starts before you set your own red soled shoes in to the exhibition as Louboutin shoes hang like circus acrobats down the centre of the stairwell. Upon entering the exhibition, you'll find a wall completely covered in the lasts Louboutin has used to create his wonderful shoes.

Behind the wall takes you in to the main room where a red centre stage is in the shape of a 17 metre long inverted shoe. Around the stage are the Showgirls inspired glitzy shoes set up in a chorus line, each with their very own foot light shining upon them. An elevated section shows a 3D hologram of Dita Von Teese and a giant pair of Louboutin shoes putting on a short sparkling performance.

Radiating from the Showgirls stage are five of Louboutin's other key inspirations:

Travel inspired shoes take pride of place on red velvet cushioned swings hung from a fairground carousel. Photographic images of cities and places are illustrated on the carousel’s panels representing places where Louboutin has visited.

A glass helter skelter acts as the mirrored display shelves for shoes and boots. Louboutin is a great fan of transparency as it creates a sense of nudity in the shoe. Materials used are lace, mesh and metals. The styles range from the African feeling of the  Massai sandal made of PVC, lambskin and elastics to the more sci-fi Kriptonite  shoe made of calfskin, tulle, strass and metal spikes.

A giant spinning top includes elements of a grand piano. The enormous black piano keys become the stands to display individual shoes. In this collection is a pair of heeled ballet slippers (imagine the ballet dancer already on her toes, and then add a long stiletto heel) encrusted with Swarovski Elements and created for the English National Ballet courtesy of Swarovski.

Architecture inspired shoes are displayed on sundial plinths within an enclosed topiary walkway. On one of the plinths is the highest pair of wedges I've ever since - almost skyscrapers.

This is the one-off design section featuring very expensive and precious handmade bespoke shoes. They are displayed on two glass shelves and can be viewed through 'opera' glasses and magnifying lenses to see up close and personal. Creations include a Rolls Royce fronted shoe; Guinness heeled shoe, Wedgewood shoe and Marie Antoinette style shoe.
After the wonderment of the Cabaret style main room, you can enter in to a recreation of Louboutin's Parisian studio. Here the 6 stages of design to create a shoe are shown. It is also a treasure chest for curious eyes as we see objects that inspired the making of Louboutin shoes. Also here are Miss Piggy's bespoke shoes, Louboutin Barbie dolls, more shoes and a few men’s shoes. Sorry guys, but this is the only place in the exhibition showcasing men’s footwear, but you will not be disappointed.

This pop up studio then leads on to a biography room displaying photos and snippets of information throughout Louboutin's 20 year long career. Here are also twenty of his most iconic shoes which have been reissued for his 20th anniversary. Even if you are not a shoe-a-holic, you'll still be awestruck by the whole concept.

Can Christian Louboutin put on a great show? He certainly Can Can!

The exhibition is until 9 July at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD www.designmuseum.org

Image credit: Luke Hayes

By Karen Grace
Personal Shopper & Image Consultant for Frumpy to Funky http://www.frumpytofunky.com

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