I promised myself that I wasn't going to talk about the weather in this post..except to say that it is definitely the sort that encourages wandering aimlessly around museums and eating cake...which I delightfully did last week with one of my favourite people at the Natural History Museum. I was utterly convinced that they had a stuffed dodo there and I suggest you go and see for yourselves whether this is in fact the case.
The Design Museum provides a different sort of fantasy at the moment, a staggering retrospective of Christian Louboutin's two decades in the business.
“I haven’t yet met a woman who wanted shorter legs,” the man himself said yesterday at the unveiling and the chap has a point. As someone who lives in ballet pumps and loafers (I like the feeling I can run away if I need to) you might not think that the uber high heel would set my heart fluttering but I can tell you, that if I manage to get my next pay rise, this will be the treat I buy myself.
Mr Louboutin was making little apology for how painful the world’s most desirable shoes are to wear. As many of his female fans will attest (he sold more than 600,000 pairs last year), sometimes these shoes are so painful to walk in that there is little the wearer can do but mince.
However, in the designer’s view, the vertiginous height of his heels is worth all the pain. “Of course, I’m concerned about comfort and ensuring the construction of the shoe works,” he said. “But do I really want people to look at my shoes and think, ‘Ooh, how comfortable looking are those’? No, I want them to think how beautiful or how great they look.
“When I interned at the Folies Bergère many years ago, I would often be asked to buy the cabaret dancers carpaccio of veal from the market. I couldn’t understand why they ate so much veal. Until one day they laughed and said it was to cushion the pain of their incredibly high heels. Veal was chosen because it didn’t bleed into the shoes.”
WOW, I don't have that level of commitment and you can be sure that when I eventually purchase my pair, I'll be making darn sure I can walk in them but the point remains that women do buy them..by the thousands. Part of the allure has got to be the red soles, which have seen him overtake Manolo Blahnik as aspirational shoe god. There is no doubting the potency and allure of that flash of red; the naughty, knowing wink as you strut (maybe hobble) by. Every time a woman climbs a staircase or crosses her legs, she flashes a symbol — red with it's connotations of passion and blood, also a sign of the £800 that has been spent on the shoes. There is no need for an obvious logo, because the no-logo flash of colour is enough.
Fashion lore has it that Louboutin invented the look in 1993 when he spotted a design assistant painting her nails a vivid red. Whipping the varnish from her hands, he covered the entire rubber sole of a prototype with it. But it wasn’t until 2007 that he patented the idea. Louboutin is currently in the midst of an intellectual property case with Yves Saint Laurent over the right to use his bright red lacquered sole.
Regardless, women all over the world continue to bankrupt themselves for his shoes and one day, I'll be one of them...I better start a taxi fund too.