Siren red was the color of choice at Wednesday afternoon’s Couture Council luncheon honoring Christian Louboutin.
Many women in the 550-person strong crowd paid their respects by wearing his red-soled shoes, and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s president Joyce Brown went a step further, sporting a B Michael-designed fiery-red dress. Along with the red-backed chairs and reversible red-and-white napkins, the tables’ diminutive floral displays were also red. Surely, Van Wyck & Van Wyck designed the decor with purpose. Even the Olivier Cheng-catered lunch of tarte tatin aux tomates and lobster tail — were you guessed it — red. One attendee arrived prepared, teetering in six-inch Gaga-worthy red patent stilettos with a pair of metallic sneakers slung over one shoulder.
Before taking a seat for the festivities, Louboutin lingered a bit at the step-and-repeat arm-in-arm with Diane von Furstenberg outside of the David H. Koch Theater. Indoors, the promenade was abuzz with various sectors of the fashion camp. Representing the media world — past and present — were Glenda Bailey, Derek Blasberg, Hamish Bowles, Joanna Coles, Martha Stewart and Hal Rubenstein. Rounding off the retail side were Nordstrom’s Jamie Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Roopal Patel and Triple Five Group’s Ken Downing. As the luncheon’s presenting sponsor, Nordstrom reminded attendees of the company’s long-awaited New York City women’s store opening on Oct. 24.
The Museum at FIT’s director Valerie Steele offered something else to pencil into the fall calendar — Friday’s public opening for the museum’s “Paris, Capital of Fashion” exhibition. The French-born guest of honor also plugged the show in his acceptance speech. But before he took to the stage to accept the Couture Council’s award for Artistry in Fashion, his presenter Priyanka Chopra warmed up the crowd. She said, “He has achieved what so many of us just aspire to do. He has built a legacy that will outlive almost all of us for sure,” adding how his iconic red-soled shoes relay a sense of pride and aspiration. “They have been immortalized by many people that we know — Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, uh, me.”
The actress also drew attention to less-photographed females in Louboutin’s life — his four-year-old twin daughters — asking, “Can you imagine being born into closets full of Louboutins?”
At the podium, Louboutin pled shyness and explained the French don’t give speeches. “It’s not part of our culture. We don’t have this British humor or American je ne sais quoi. We just don’t do that. We barely say thank you,” he said.
Trying to do his best to say something, Louboutin thanked Brown, Nordstrom, Chopra and his team. Recalling how he first met the actress at a film festival in Morocco, Louboutin spoke of how they later reconvened in India “where they got to share lots of great nights and dirty stories. But this was all before she was married. So Nick [Jonas], you have a fun girl by your side — so behave.”
After taking the approach that he was a best man giving a speech at a wedding, Louboutin struck a more emotional note in thanking von Furtsenberg. “She’s my godmother, my sister, my traveling companion, my oracle and my partner in every crime. She opened her arms to me almost 30 years ago when I sold my first collection of shoes in America from the table in her dinning room — before I had an office.…She has supported me emotionally for all of my career, I owe her so much. More than that, I love her so much. And today is probably a good day to tell her, ‘I will never forget her for her dedication. I would like to share this award with her.”
After, von Furstneberg stood briefly to acknowledge the crowd’s applause, Louboutin added, “I share [it], but I keep it.”