Christian Louboutin celebrates 20 years in business
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They came on 6-inch platforms and sky-high booties, donning spikes and leopard spots. Stiletto-clad fans lined up at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills on Thursday night to meet their idol, French designer Christian Louboutin, who was in town to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his red-soled brand, and his new book.
He signed copies of the self-titled book - -a sumptuous $150 monograph with still-life photos of his fanciful designs by David Lynch and Philippe Garcia -- for nearly two hours. He also signed a leg cast for Melissa Dishell, longtime manager of burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese.
Dishell, who wore a Louboutin high-top sneaker on her other foot, was happy to report that her injury was not the fault of one of the designer’s vertiginous heels, but rather uneven sand on a beach in Ibiza. (The cast looked pretty great after Louboutin doodled bows on it. Designer casts...maybe he’s onto something there.)
After the book signing, the evening’s hosts -- Dita Von Teese, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Cameron Silver, Lucy Liu and Monet Mazur -- decamped to Mr. Chow for dinner, joining Eva Chow, Rachel Zoe, Molly Sims and others.
It was fun catching up with Gelila Puck, a longtime Louboutin friend, who recalled fondly the white mesh shoes the designer made for her 2007 wedding in Capri. ‘He even flew to New York for a fitting,’ she said. Lucky girl, Gelila still has special designs made just for her, including the strappy gray snakeskin booties she was wearing with her metallic Geoffrey Beene shift dress on Thursday night. Von Teese, another longtime pal of the shoe designer, chose a pair of spikey heels to accent the gash on her leg. That injury wasn’t caused by a shoe either, but by the cup holder in her car. ‘Were you in the backseat or the front?,’ I asked her. ‘And what were you doing?’ Alas, she swore it wasn’t anything so kinky as those shoes. ‘I don’t know how I did it.’
Louboutin himself was sandwiched between Von Teese and Huntington-Whitley all night. Probably not too bad a place to be. I reminded him of the last time we met, nine years ago when he opened his first Los Angeles boutique. I bought my first pair of Louboutins there, a pair of ‘trash mules,’ with bits of feathers, glitter and newsprint trapped in plastic. They reminded me of what must be on the floor at the end of the night at a Paris cabaret. I had never seen a pair of shoes so magical.
Speaking of glitter, Louboutin was the guy who really started that shoe trend in a big way. Now, you can buy glitter shoes at Target. But Louboutin is the one who made them so popular, and took them beyond the stuff of little girls’ fairy tales.
A recent story in the New York Times proclaimed the end of the extreme shoe trend, suggesting women are ready to kick aside their red-soled, Kardashian-high platforms in favor of simpler, less-ostentatious shoes by Manolo Blahnik. Maybe so. But red sole or not, let’s not forget that Louboutin makes a very chic simple pump too. With a perfectly round toe and a narrow, but not too narrow, heel, it is a forever classic. And as much as Louboutin might not want to hear it, it’s comfortable!
And speaking of those red soles, despite the recent ruling by a New York judge denying Louboutin’s trademark, the designer isn’t giving up. He’s appealing the case. ‘I have to stand up for myself, and for others,’ he said.
-- Booth Moore
Photos from top: Rachel Zoe and Christian Louboutin; A pair of shoes on display at the party and a pair of green Louboutin shoes a guest wore; Melissa Dishell, Christian Louboutin with Solange Knowles, Lucy Lu; Dita Von Teese’s leg, Rosie Huntington-Whitley and Dita Von Teese; Dita Von Teese, Christian Louboutin, Lucy Lu and Rosie Huntington-Whitley. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times