The New Christian Louboutin Exhibition Will Delight Shoe-Lovers

The designer talks to Grazia about dreams, high heels and why women are in charge.

Christian Louboutin Exhihibition

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

Today the Palais de la Porte Dorée museum in Paris unveils L’Exhibition[iste], a new exhibition dedicated to shoe maestro Christian Louboutin’s work. It’s fitting treatment for the red soles which don’t so much beckon the limelight as revel in it.

For Christian, L’Exhibition[iste] is personal. He grew up just a stone’s throw from the museum, and was first acquainted with the worlds of art and design in its galleries. ‘It made me dream and travel, before I would actually travel,’ he tells me at the preview for the exhibition. ‘I really owe a big part of my imagination to this place. So I wanted to give back the same emotion that I had as a kid here’.

It must feel strange for imagine the young Christian wandering the Palais’ galleries, and now be the main event himself. ‘Funny enough, I never dreamt big,’ he says. ‘I never really dreamt of professional things or being anything special. My thing was to do beautiful shoes, always. But it was not necessarily to put my name on.’ He adds with a smile: ‘I realise now I would have been very unhappy if it hadn’t happened, but I had never dreamt it’.

It did happen though, on a global scale. Today, women – and men – the world over are obsessed with their Louboutins (none more so than Cardi B, who has rapped about the ‘red bottoms’ and been rumoured to buy a new pair every couple of weeks). Brigitte Macron wears hers on state visits, Leonardo Dicaprio picked up his Oscar in a pair. Aretha Franklin loved hers so much she was buried in a pair.

Next year the brand turns 30, and its appeal continues to endure far beyond Planet Celebrity. Christian believes it’s because ‘women do see unconsciously the big love and respect that I have for them. That’s why I am always offended when people say, “to do high heels is bad for women, you oblige women”’. To that, he replies ‘“Do you really think that I feel that I have the power to oblige people I don’t know to wear my shoes not because they want to but because they want to please me?” Come on! Most women I know, they know what they want and they do what they want. Thank god! They are in charge’.

One room in L’Exhibition[iste] is strictly off-limits for under-16s. it’s dedicated to Christian’s collaboration with the film director David Lynch and the Fetish collection of extreme, whip-crackingly fierce oddities such as 26cm heels and Siamese pumps (one offs, not made to be worn it should be noted). His own definition of sexy ‘is a state of mind but it’s also something quite unexpected. Some people have a sexy touch, and some people just don’t,’ he shrugs. Surely a Louboutin can help us all unleash our inner sex goddess though? ‘It puts people in the state of mind but it’s really your desire to feel sexy and to be sexy. A shoe is an element that can help you, but it can just help. You put the attention on the foot but you don’t feel your foot is sexy, you feel sexy yourself,’ he says, adding that the right shoe is ‘like a little character’ that can help tease the sexy out of you.

Christian Louboutin x David Lynch festish heels

The final section of the exhibition is dedicated to Christian’s inspirations. An immersive dive into his moodboard, it runs the gamut from Wedgwood China to Helmut Newton photography, Gandharan art to Andy Warhol paintings. A smorgasbord of references it demonstrates Christian’s fearlessness in mixing the high and low, classic and pop, art and artisanship. ‘Artisanship is really, to me, often I put it to the same level as art,’ he explains. ‘My father was a carpenter, but he always loved fine art and objects. And it’s important for me to express. The idea here is ‘Inside the head’ rather than ‘behind the scenes’’.

In keeping with his you-can-sit-with-us attitude, Christian is keen that even people who don’t ‘get’ luxury fashion, might find something to be inspired or excited by – just as he was in this museum all those years ago. ‘What I really wanted to do here was to an exhibition not only for the happy few who have access to fashion shows. But to do a popular exhibition,’ he says with a smile. ‘To me, popular is not a dirty word’.

Christian Louboutin Exhibition

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