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URBAN GUIDE

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August 2022

Christian Louboutin

“I love lengthening women’s silhouettes.”

The shoe designer is famous for his red-soled heels, worn by pop stars and film icons alike. In his exhibition in Monaco he reveals some of his inspirations. We met up with him.

By Tanja Stojanov
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Le créateur est devenu célèbre avec ses souliers à la semelle rouge.
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Les mannequins fétichistes de Louboutin ont été façonnés par Whitaker Malem.
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Soulier Maquereau et Tobago d’Hazoumé Romuald. © Jean-Vincent Simonet

Your exhibition is called Christian Louboutin : L’Exhibition[niste]. Apart from the pun on the word “exhibition”, do you feel like an exhibitionist?
The title came to us during the first part of the exhibition held at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris in 2020, a place I am very attached to personally because it takes me back to my childhood. It’s also where I discovered all these collections of non-Western art. When the idea of doing this exhibition became more concrete, the fact that I would be exposing myself, baring myself a little and exhibiting myself didn’t come easy because I’m quite shy and discreet.

The exhibition is organised in different sections, including one co-created with David Lynch, dedicated to fetishism.
Yes, each of the exhibition’s themes sheds light on an aspect of my work. Personally I don’t feel like a fetishist, and fetishism is often confused with bondage. On the other hand, if you think about what a fetish is, an object of desire that reminds you of someone, you realise that literature is strewn with them and you think of Proust’s Madeleine. Designing a shoe is a pleasure for me in any case, and for this collaboration I asked David if he would take photos of shoes that were not made to be worn, and he agreed. So there’s the ballerina shoe with a veil that allows you to see the underside of the foot, the handcuffed shoe that evokes the fetishism of jealousy, and the exaggeratedly long heel that accentuates the arch.

One of the most successful sections is dedicated to nude shoes. How did you create these collections?
This is the idea of the Nude with Shoes as an extension of the silhouette. Personally, I like shoes that undress more than those that dress the wearer. One day, when I was showing designs to a buyer, I was talking about the colour black, brown or flesh, and one of my co-workers couldn’t stop sighing. When the customers left I asked her why she had done that! She replied that she found it offensive to talk about flesh colour for beige because she had black skin. I had been instantly called out and I gradually developed all the skin colours. We present eight nude colours in the exhibition, and now we even offer nine.