If you like shoes (and who doesn’t?!) then the Christian Louboutin Retrospective Exhibition at the Design Museum in London is a MUST SEE!

This is a Wonderland of Louboutin’s red-soled shoes from the past 20 years and you’ll feel like Alice as you encounter a large upturned shoe whose red sole acts as a centre stage; a small glass Helter-Skelter and a large spinning top doubling up as a grand piano with the giant black keys displaying individual shoes. But there’s so much more to see…

As you go up the stairs to the exhibition, shoes dangle from the ceiling like circus acrobats and the neon-lit entrance draws you in.

Taking centre stage is the red glossy stage which represents Louboutin’s showgirl inspiration. Louboutin, the young teenager, worked as an intern at the Folies Bergeres in Paris and became enthralled with the showgirls and their Birds of Paradise costume.

At this early age he was inspired to make every woman feel as glamorous as those showgirls.

Louboutin’s showgirl-inspired shoes stand around the stage like a chorus line and are all lit up with their own footlight.

For the exhibition, a 3-D hologram of the Queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, morphs out of a giant sparkly stiletto and dances above the stage (pictured right).


Around the stage are brightly lit fairground attractions representing Louboutin’s other key inspirations:

The Carousel represents Louboutin’s love of travel. Here travel inspired shoes sit regally on hanging red velvet cushions which slowly rotate.

(Pictured right, and main picture above.) The Glass Helter-Skelter represents transparency. Louboutin loves the idea that transparency suggests nudity in a shoe and his semi-transparent shoes sit on the mirrored shelves of the Helter-Skelter exposed from all angles.

The Topiary Walkway represents Louboutin’s passion for architecture. In fact in 1989, Louboutin turned his hand to garden design before opening his first shoe store.

Here, shoes are displayed on sundial plinths within the enclosed walkway. Have you ever seen wedges any higher than these?


The Spinning Top (pictured above) in the guise of a grand piano represents entertainment.

Here, you can see a pair of heeled ballet slippers encrusted with Swarovski Elements and created for the English National Ballet (courtesy of Swarovski) – only a ballet dancer could wear these!

One-off designs are displayed on shelves nearby and can be viewed close up with ‘opera’-like magnifying glasses. Here are Louboutin’s most expensive and precious bespoke shoes featuring a Rolls Royce fronted shoe (below right), Guinness heeled shoe (below left) and Wedgewood shoe (right) to name a few.

If you can tear yourself away from all the glitz and glamour, step through the red curtains to the adjoining darkly lit room and view the Fetish collection.

This is a collaboration of photographs by David Lynch and Louboutin’s spiked heel shoes which sit securely inside glass bell jars.

This also leads on to a reconstruction of Louboutin’s own Parisian studio which is a treasure chest of bits and pieces including Louboutin Barbie dolls, Miss Piggy’s bespoke shoes (above), initial shoe design drawings and materials. 

Leave the studio for the biography room and see photos and snippets of information following Loubotin’s career, plus 20 of his most iconic shoes. 

How did Christian Louboutin come up with the idea of a red sole? Well the story goes he grabbed a bottle of red nail polish from his assistant and painted the black sole of a prototype he was not happy with and viola! The birth of the glamorous red sole.

The exhibition runs until 9th July at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD. For further information see www.designmuseum.org

Images courtesy of Luke Hayes www.lukehayes.com and Karen Grace.





Karen Grace studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International. You can read more of Karen's fashion advice at:

  • www.frumpytofunky.com
  • http://frumpytofunky.blogspot.com 
  •  http://mensstyling.blogspot.com 

For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on contact@frumpytofunky.com and 07787 800 390.  

Allison Graham
Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there's a lot more to learn...

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