The designer of the famous red-soled stilettos arrives in Monaco with a profusion of shoes and a reinvented version of his exhibition, which underlines his links with the Principality, culture and the arts.
The first act of this exhibition was held in 2020 at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris, a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture from which Christian Louboutin has drawn inspiration for a repertoire of patterns and shapes. Now this artisan of fashion, who has turned his savoir-faire into a form of artistic expression, has chosen to reinvent the exhibition in the splendid setting of the Principality, with the assistance of curator Olivier Gabet. Across three decades of stilettos – lacquered, studded or winged – he reveals some of the keys to his imagination. The exhibition also features a number of Louboutin’s personal objects, such as the striking Fayum Feet that date back to the Roman period, and rare pieces on loan from Monegasque museums, including one of Josephine Baker’s headdresses and a Lustre Radiolaire chandelier by Constant Roux. Born in Paris, Louboutin spent many a weekend in Monaco as a child, and was particularly inspired by his visits to the Oceanographic Museum. He later developed even stronger connections with the Rock: “A few months after I opened my first boutique in Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1991, Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline of Monaco came in. She was one of my first customers, and helped make my brand what it is today. Beyond being someone whom I consider to be one of my fairy godmothers, she has become a good friend.”
Fashion and the performing arts
We know all about Louboutin’s relationship with popular culture, and the top athletes, film stars, musicians and singers for whom he has designed shoes, but in this exhibition he also underscores his role as curator. “He emphasises his passion for three-dimensional works – objects and sculptures – and his support of artists,” says Olivier Gabet, who is also curator of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. “He casts more light on the things and people he loves. He is presenting a three-dimensional work specifically designed for this show in collaboration with Allen Jones, which will be displayed in a 170-square metre space – a real exhibition within the exhibition.” One day Christian Louboutin borrowed his assistant’s red nail polish to paint the soles of a prototype he was working on, so the shoes would have the same pop aesthetic as his sketches, s and the exhibition highlights some of his influences in this respect: the canvases of Andy Warhol, the photos of Helmut Newton, the oceanographic explorations of Albert I and dance with the heritage of the Ballets Russes. The show takes you on a journey into the world of an inspired traveller and collector, with an ultra-glamorous backdrop.