When a Red Sole Peeps on the Catwalk…

…you can be sure Christian Louboutin has a hand in it.

As a fashion nerd, I love checking the new collections of my favourite designers and I also love checking the details of the clothes, the embroideries and the accessories, with a keen eye on shoes and handbags. The first time I spotted a red sole – the unmistakable symbol of Louboutin shoes [1] – it was in Rodarte spring/summer 2007 fashion show: the Mulleavy sisters were lucky enough to send their models on the runway wearing Louboutin shoes, expressly made for the occasion.

Simple pumps and mary-janes were made special by cut-out details on the upper, and sky-high ankle boots were romantically made of silver lace and leather. The joint-venture connecting Rodarte and the French shoe wizard brought to other three collections, in a crescendo of experimentation and fun.

The shoes designed for Rodarte fall/winter 2007 collection gained a huge success and became part of Louboutin regular collection. The main theme is represented by studs, which decorate suede pumps, mary-janes with one or two (in this case, the ankle strap can be removed) straps and ankle boots. The leather version of the mary-janes (the famous ‘Mad Mary’) and of the ankle boots (the ‘Ariella’ style) have been spotted on many celebrities, from Ashley Olsen to Rachel Bilson, including Mischa Barton (who seems to have a sort of obsession with the ‘Mad Mary’ style), Vanessa Hudgens, Lindsay Lohan and Victoria Beckham.

Rodarte spring/summer 2008 shows a strong turn in the style of the Mulleavy sisters, who leave romantic and flowy clothes behind and send out a collection influenced by Yasujiro Ozu‘s films and by Japanese culture of kawaii and manga comics. In this case, shoes are over-decorated with studs (some of them are arched, similar to spikes), which will soon become a leit motiv of Rodarte’s future collections. The sandals made of zip straps are interesting too (they’ve become the ‘Rodita’ sandals, in Louboutin regular collection).

The post-atomic/manga/Japanese horror films’ inspiration reaches its peak in the extraordinary fall/winter 2008 collection:  the shoes on the runway are sky-high mary-janes, with multiple straps, decorated by studs and spikes and worn on torn-web wool stockings. I would have never thought someone had ventured in wearing these weapon-like shoes in real life, but I was wrong.

Janet Jackson and Victoria Beckham were the heroines who dared to actually walk on these golden heels. I much prefer Janet’s outfit, where the Louboutins are toned down by rolled-up jeans and a cozy sweater; Victoria Beckham paired them with a Balenciaga lacy dress.

Another lucky designer who has worked with Christian Louboutin is Phillip Lim. The result of this collaboration is an array of funky shoes, seen on the spring/summer 2009 and fall/winter 2009 runways.

I cannot explain how much I love the ‘Dillian’ ruched multi-strap pumps, made of leather in bright colours, in metallic silver and gold and in python.  The flat version is also cute, and so is the fringed suede pump.

A sexier vibe can be found in the fall/winter 2009 collection: the materials are more precious (silk, lace, satin and sequins) and the heels higher.  Strappy sandals, suede pumps, peep-toe ankle boots and platform lace-up boots were designed to complete Seventies-inspired outfits.

Lim and the Mulleavys had the privilege to work with Louboutin on original shoe styles, but Louboutin shoes have been spotted on other runways, too. Take the Marchesa fashion shows, for example: models (plus Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig) always step on the catwalk wearing Louboutin shoes.

In spring/summer 2007 collection models wore platform peep-toe pumps, and the designers were spotted with sparkly-heeled pumps. The same shoes were worn to present the fall/winter 2007 and resort 2008 collections; simple sandals with organdy ribbons were seen on models at the spring/summer 2009 presentation (held at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York). Satin pumps in soft and bright colours were used for the fall/winter 2009 presentation in the same location.

The former model and stylist (and Mick Jagger’s fiancée) L’Wren Scott [3] is the latest designer who had the chance to work with Louboutin and create original footwear [2] for her collections.

The most successful shoes by Louboutin for L’Wren Scott are buttoned ankle boots, seen on the fall/winter 2008 runway. Since celebrities are the best advertisement for any designer, when Sarah Jessica Parker wore these booties at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, all the fashionistas went crazy for them. Too bad they’re sold out everywhere.

[1] Can a red sole only create a world-wide craze? Christian Louboutin has proved that this is possible. The fashionable, avant-garde and funny styles of his shoes, paired with a sexy red sole, are coveted by ordinary women and celebrities. Someone tried to copy the infamous red sole but with no result: each time a red sole peeps around, it screams ‘Louboutin’!

[2] The most expensive style of the collection is the ‘Anguilla’ pump, made of anguilla leather. The ‘Lady Chevron’ pumps are quite expensive too, but are quite plain.

[3] Just out of curiosity: don’t you think Louboutin’s and Scott’s brand signatures are very similar? Is this a coincidence or a homage of the latter to the former?

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17 comments

  1. I think that you ought to make a profession out of your passion for fashion.
    You could make a lot more money than by teaching, because you’re really good, IMHO.

    1. Thanks so much for your flattering words…but I don’t think this is going to evolve into something else, let alone a job!

  2. After this entry I think I might go and loot a Louboutin boutique if I see one!
    My absolutely favourites are the studded Rodarte (the second set from the top) and the ones made with the zips. The studs&spikes are really ‘aggressive’, although I guess they’d prevent people from stomping on your feet!
    The boots made for L’Wren Scott are great too!

    PS: ‘Anguilla leather’ as in the fish (eel)?

    1. Of course you should go and loot a Louboutin boutique ;P If there was one here, I would surely do it! The only problem is my shoe size 😦
      I have mixed feelings for the first studded set of shoes. I love love love the Ariella boots, while the Mad Mary pumps are so boring (I know I think they’re boring because I’ve seen them again and again and again on every single celebrity out there).
      As for the anguilla leather, well, I think anguilla is the same as eel. Just out of curiosity, ‘anguilla’ in English is referred to the European freshwater eel. This implies the existence of non-European eels…

  3. Now it’s been a real surprise to find you here and in english. Your clearly expressed ambition to get new readers strucks me and tickles my curiosity – is this kind of a “general rehersal”, in order to promote yourself as a bilingual webstar? Do you have, er, “projects”? My compliments anyhow. And kisses to little Bianca (hope I remember the right name!). As for Louboutin, I cannot judge. I simply do non consider heels higher than 7cm – but it’s my personal attitude.

    1. Thanks for the compliments 🙂 I’m afraid but this new blog doesn’t imply any project (even if I’d like to). I was just a bit bored of how things were going on Splinder, I really wanted to try something new and challenging.

  4. Thanks for the explanation, I was actually wondering whether there was any difference between anguilla and eel (i.e. anguilla is only used for the leather whilst eel applies to the actual fish)- I am sorry if my previous comment sounded like a remark, I didn’t mean it to!
    Anyway, if you tell me your shoe size I’ll happily grab a pair for you too when I go on my ‘expedition’, 🙂 !!

    1. Hey, I teach English but English is not my mother tongue, so any request/explanation is useful! At first I thought ‘eel’ and ‘anguilla’ can be used one for the actual fish and the other for the leather, but there are some bags (I think of Jimmy Choo’s Carolina, for example) which are made of eel leather, so the difference must be related to the place where they live in.

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