A touch of shoe heaven at the Christian Louboutin exhibition in London’s Design Museum

Shoes on display at Christian Louboutin exhibition Design Museum London

Emperor of heels, Christian Louboutin and his famous red soles are strutting along the river, to the Design Museum in celebration for the 20th anniversary of the infamous brand.

The retrospective commends not just the success of his career, but the personal life that is inextricably linked to his work. Acting almost as a premiere to Louboutin’s life, it showcases an interactive journey from room to room, that peels back the layers of a boundary pushing fashion genius. From initial designs and prototypes, to factory production and eventually the final striking results, this unique insight proves the brand to be far more than the legendary footwear visible on the surface.

For the raunchier of visitors, a large section of the exhibition has a ‘showgirl’ theme, inspired by Louboutin’s Folies Bergeres past, which lead to his fascination with wanting to make women feel fabulous. This ideal is beautifully illustrated in the three-dimensional life-size hologram of burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese, who emerges from a shoe and proceeds to dance onto a seventeen metre red stage. Another generous space is dedicated to the ‘fetish’ collection taken from Louboutin’s 2007 exhibition, of which he collaborated with Avant Guarde mastermind David Lynch to produce those eminent spiked heels.

Other spectacles include a rotating carousel where shoes sit on hanging red velvet cushions, bearing significance to represent Louboutin’s affection for travel. A glass helter skelter displaying shoes on mirror shelves reflects his on-going experimentation with transparency. An oversized spinning top that features shoes placed on the keys of an abstract grand piano, denotes his interest in the entertainment industry. The seemingly ill-fitting Topiary Walkway displaying shoes on sundial plinths amongst grass-textured walls proves its relevance in relating to his brief stint as a garden designer. (Depending on photos)

In the twenty years of his fashion reign, Louboutin has advanced from that notorious birth moment of using his assistant’s nail polish to paint the sole of a prototype black shoe, red, to a distinguished brand like no other. Taking hand to much collaboration, the Louboutin stamp never goes unnoticed. Swarovski encrusted heeled ballet slippers created for English National Ballet, a Rolls Royce fronted shoe and a Guinness heeled shoe (all of which are displayed at the exhibition), his work is discernible in the most beautiful of ways.

Design Museum
1st May – 29th July

Written by Grace Williams