Christian Louboutin hosted a presentation followed by a dinner to celebrate his made-to-measure designs and spring 2019 collection.
In the circular room of the Elephant Paname dance centre located a pas-de-deux away from the Place Vendôme, the showpieces were undoubtedly the rarely shown made-to-measure shoes, displayed around a giant praxinoscope, a late-19th-century animation device. Against a wall, a tableau depicted how footwear could become a whole outfit as graffitied boots climbed up the body to become a complete catsuit, fishnet peep-toes became bejeweled tights with heels and graffitied-then-embroidered PVC stiletto waders.
It is the first time that the Parisian shoemaker has highlighted his made-to-measure range through a presentation. “We were going to show the collection during the shows, since couture is linked to things that are made to measure. I am lucky to have this atelier that allows me to do things that please me but also experiment. This collection is the illustration of that,” he said. “While there isn’t much [of a conceptual] difference with the main line, I am glad to be able to make pieces that can only be done with a specific craftsperson, like Zuleika Penniman. It is complicated to ask artists and craftspeople to do things made to be reproduced. I feel it isn’t the same.”
Dubai-based Penniman, the jewelry and objet designer who also designed the containers for the shoe brand’s beauty line and is the sister of singer Mika, created the gold-plated soles for knee-high embroidered sneakers, sometimes inlaid with mother-of-pearl or turquoise.
Other styles included a matte black alligator pump with hand-sculpted gold-plated wood spikes shooting backwards; a lace-up boot inspired by women wearing corsets and featuring the “Dentelle Touze,” an intricate lace filigree pattern depicting an almost erotic scene, and a mule composed of curling and intersecting ribbons of PVC, leather and suede, and featuring a Plexiglass heel composed of multicolored layers.
Taking in that particular pair was Kristin Scott Thomas. “It fires up the imagination, as if you’re walking on air. To be worn, they’re just simplicity — a ribbon on your toes that wraps around your ankle — but obviously complicated to make. They turn you into some kind of magical goddess,” said the actress, who has a lasting relationship with the Parisian designer and owns several made-to-measure pairs. “Having a shoe made for you makes all the difference. My favorite pair of shoes are these party shoes with lots of diamanté on the front and a very small platform, quite reminiscent of the Thirties and Forties T-bars. Quite a solid shoe. They must be 18 years old.”
Guests at the dinner on Monday night — among them Natalia Vodianova, who wore mismatched shoes featuring a measuring tape and a golden slipper — may not all have had some bespoke footwear done but they were treated to fans cut from the cheeky “Touze” lace.
As for the fall collection, the graphically intensive walk on the bold side was influenced in particular by Julio Le Parc’s Bifurcations shown last year in a solo show at Galerie Perrotin, which Louboutin described as having stayed with him ever since.
Spring 2019 models include PVC booties in the Nudes collection, with ribbons and ostrich feathers dyed to match the skin tone; shoes with a naïf depiction of nail-polish and bejeweled feet wearing flip-flops; block-heeled ankle boots with a triple colored band, and perforated models in contrasting leather combinations.