The shoe must go on - even when it hurts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2012, 12:00am


Christian Louboutin is the latest fashion designer to be honoured with his own retrospective at a museum. In his 20th year of shoemaking, the king of the red sole has an exhibition at London's Design Museum. A dancing hologram of burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese, one of Louboutin's most ardent fans, takes centre stage wearing little more than a sparkly pair of his stilettoed creations. Fashion retrospectives are certainly on trend, but what makes a good one?

Alexander McQueen's sell-out at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is one of the most memorable, perhaps because it was a tribute to one of fashion's brightest and most courageous lights who met a tragic end.

Jean Paul Gaultier's retrospective that debuted in Montreal earlier this year was also an apt homage to the quirky designer. And in the past, Vivienne Westwood with her striking costumes, Manolo Blahnik and the avant-garde Hussein Chalayan have all had their own exhibitions at galleries and museums.

Without the aid of live models, the drama of fashion has to be evoked in another way, hence the appearance of Von Teese in her three-dimensional glory.

The sky-high stilettos and the clash of studs and crystals on the shoes displayed remind the reader what Louboutin is all about - danger and seduction. He recently caused controversy by declaring he didn't care whether his shoes were comfortable, batting away criticism with the words: 'If you can't walk in them, don't wear them.'

The designer almost relishes the pleasure-pain aspect of high heels, candidly saying that they are sexy because the arch resembles the shape formed by a woman's foot as she orgasms. Regardless of whether you agree with him, it certainly makes for a good story.

If you happen to be in London before July 9, make sure you check out the exhibition. It does what all fashion is supposed to do: make the ordinary extraordinary.