If the fetish becomes art. In the principality of Monaco the second act of the exhibition on Christian Louboutin

Photo © Jean-Vincent Simonet pour Christian Louboutin
Photo © Jean-Vincent Simonet pour Christian Louboutin
A sparkling fiery red corridor introduces the theatrical show that the Grimaldi Forum Monaco dedicates to Christian Louboutin (Paris 1963), whose creativity is celebrated here with unusual splendor and luxury. Glamorous event of the Monegasque summer, Christian Louboutin, L’Exhibition[niste], Chapter II (the I was presented in 2020 in Paris at the Palais de la Porte Dorée), is a journey spread over three decades of an exciting career marked by a great curiosity for the arts and cultures of the world. Until August 28th.

Re-designed and re-designed by co-curator Olivier Gabet, Director of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, the exhibition unveils new perspectives on the talented designer’s work through a spectacular scenography extending across the 2,000 m² Espace Ravel of the Grimaldi Forum Monk. A common thread, moreover, has long linked Louboutin to the singular history of the Principality: it was thanks to a chance meeting in ’92 with Princess Caroline that he decided to open his first boutique in rue JJ Rousseau in Paris.

The first intuition in wanting to design high-heeled shoes, she was just 11 years old, was triggered by a sign posted in a museum not far from her home in Paris, which indicated a ban on walking in high heels. The sinuous outline of the design was indelibly etched in his mind. Up to become fetish and obsession. Placed on the border between conscious and unconscious, the fetish, we know, takes concrete form in a singular, unrepeatable synthesis of intellect and affectivity. In this feeling of veneration with a “special status”, the object, at the exact moment in which it is invested with its role, is ready to become no longer just any object, but an object of worship.

Photo © Jean-Vincent Simonet pour Christian Louboutin

Thanks also to the side fetish of his creations, the Louboutin brand has effectively become a cult object for women all over the planet. Almost a simulacrum able to stimulate desire and become the only intermediary of satisfaction. It is no coincidence that one room of the exhibition is dedicated to completely unusual creations, taken from a series of shots by the director David Lynch, where the shoes imagined are not made for walking, but to tell other stories evoking sexual fantasies, exhibitionisms, fetishes, dominations, sado-masochisms. To those who asked him how he thought a woman could walk in those vertiginous heels, he said “with these shoes you cannot walk. You can only lie down or sit“.

But Louboutin’s inspiration comes from afar, from the boundless admiration for the jeweled sandals worn by the Folies Bergères dancers, for the diamond-studded pumps that belonged to Marlene Dietrich and seen for the first time in Vivier’s atelier. Already then (we are in the 80s), he begins to design models for theater dancers, works with Charles Jourdan, collaborates with prestigious Maison such as Chanel And Saint Laurent. Looking for something new for a Warhol and Pop Art inspired collection, he noticed that one of his assistants was painting her nails with a fiery red nail polish. And here is the insight “I looked at that color and thought of painting the soles red, as a statement of that season“. From that moment she has never stopped doing it and today she dresses the feet of stars, princesses and queens.

Princess Caroline of Monaco was one of the first clients of her atelier. She then followed over the years by star like Aretha FranklinRihanna, Fingers Von Teese (who wears them during his shows), Beyoncé, Blake Lively (to whom he dedicated the collection), “Blake”, Madonna, Lady Gaga. The exhibition is a theatrical, whirlwind journey among the most famous models. Some real pieces of decorative art, mainly concentrated in the Treasure Room: here a sparkling succession of paints, rhinestones, feathers, red soles.

14 thematic rooms to tell a life spent between technical knowledge and creativity. From the beginning of his career through the section Nude, flesh-colored footwear designed as an extension of the leg, Love, Helmut And Pigalle. At the center of the exhibition is the room dedicated to Imaginary Museum: a tribute to those who inspire and motivate him. A journey through a dialogue of over 300 square meters between the art objects from the stylist’s personal pantheon, from different civilizations and cultures. The legacy of the Ballets Russes, the influence of Warhol and Helmut Newton, but also the fascination for the objects preserved in the NMNM and in the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

Among the many works that highlight her passion for the world of art and entertainment is the headdress worn by Josephine Baker designed by André Levasseur and the scenography created by André Derain for the Ballet “Jack in the box” of Serge Diaghilev, on loan from the New National Museum of Munich. You come across a Bhutanese theater and a show around two original holograms, that of the tightrope walker Traoré and the dancer-stripper Dita von Teese. And tailor-made for Monaco, room 12 stages a 3D project paired with Allen Jones, an icon of British Pop Art, a representation of a constantly evolving work and a new cycle of works around a shadow theater and the digitization of Cover Story projected on a screen more than 11 meters long.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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