Simply entitled Christian Louboutin, the exhibition, curated by Donna Loveday, celebrates two decades of the French designer’s work since the label’s launch in 1991.
The theatrical exhibition space, designed by Household, demonstrates Louboutin’s unfaltering loyalty to his initial aim – ‘to make shoes that look like jewels.’
Alongside more than 200 pairs of shoes, the exhibition will showcase Louboutin’s inspirations – including performance, cabaret and the showgirl; fantasy and fairy-tale; art and architecture; film; landscape and travel.
It will also present an explorations of the design process itself, revealing how the shoe is formed from the initial drawing to the first prototype to finally being produced in the factory.
The store interiors for Louboutin, also created by Household, play a key role in looking at Louboutin’s design aesthetic. Household has previously designed the Christian Louboutin Apartment space in London’s Selfridge’s shoe galleries, which opened in 2010, and outlets in Beirut and Paris. It has also created the accompanying marketing collateral for the show.
This exhibition features displays in the form of a carousel, helter-skelter and an oversized spinning top; as well as a recreation of the designer’s Paris atelier with full-scale photographic wall graphics and objects from his studio.
Simon Stacey, creative director at Household, says, ‘We get what inspires [Louboutin] and how to tell his brand story through his sense of theatre and playfulness. What we have created with the Design Museum captures Christian’s journey and what inspires him from childhood to present day.’
The materials used to create the shoes ranges form the exotic, such as Chinese silk and Moroccan fur, to the bizarre, reusing mackerel and sardine cans.
But whatever the material, there’s no doubting that all the creations ooze sexuality – it’s no accident that those instantly recognisable soles are siren-red. This sexual undercurrent is expertly realised through the exhibition’s hologram by Musion of Burlesque star Deeta Von Teese, for whom Louboutin creates all her costume shoes, performing a cabaret dance.
The hologram shows Von Teese’s almost impossibly hourglass figure metamorphosise from an oversized Louboutin shoe into a dancer, before changing back once more into a large stiletto. It’s perhaps no surpise, that Louboutin has asserted, ‘every woman wants to be a showgirl.’
A show highlight is the ‘Fetish’ section, which focuses on Louboutin’s 2007 exhibition of the same name at La Gallerie Du Passage, Paris. The show presented a photography collaboration between the designer and director/artist oddball David Lynch which saw shoes reimagined as erotic sculptural objects.
Christian Louboutin runs from 1 May – 9 July at the Design Museum, Shad Thames Greater London SE1