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Sole Man

As we march towards the Ready To Wear Spring 2014 fashion extravaganzas, beginning in New York this September 5th and then moving to London, Milan and Paris, here is a look at one of the summer’s knock out fashion exhibitions, Christian Louboutin at Toronto’s Design Exchange.

Christian Louboutin was working at the Folies Berger in Paris, shoeing the showgirls, when he made the acquaintance of the Princess of Monaco, who was in dire need, so the legend goes, of new shoes. Once he fitted her into a pair of his stunningly wacky heels, all the other princesses wanted some too. Sort of a reverse Cinderella story. He has always been this radical feminist’s favorite shoe designer, even though I have not a single pair of his shoes in my wardrobe, because alas I have other financial priorities. The Louboutin shoes gorgeously staged in this comprehensive retrospective at the Design Exchange in Toronto are a feast of color, drama, whimsy and fetish, and reflect the obsessive and exuberant imagination of a master artisan. The exhibition features a hologram of famed stripper Dita Von Teese performing a classic burlesque which ends in her image in triplicate dissolving into Louboutin’s classic Swarovski crystal pumps. Also, from the deeper realms of Christian’s play box, there is a darkened “x-rated” fetish room co-designed by David Lynch, in which shoes-not-meant-to be-worn are displayed under bell jars. Here live the shoes meant to restrain, torture, cripple, punish, and arouse. Nobody is forced to wear anything they do not want to wear, but some fashion—particularly artful footwear—deserves sacrifice.




 

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Overheard Dialogue …

They’re for leaning on a man’s arm.

I’m not tall enough.

You would be tall enough.

They’re for getting in a taxi, getting out and going to a party.

Then getting into another taxi and going to another party.

They’re all on sale ladies!

Just not to us!! (giggles)


 

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