heelthyself

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HEEL THYSELF

Toe cleavage and lordosis. A shoe for every fantasy.

WORDS EILEEN B. RIVERA PHOTOS Chippy RIVERA

The world’s affection for footwear is no secret. Given that the average person walks between three to four thousand kilometers in a lifetime, it makes sense that shoes have been studied, documented and fetishized. Shoes are so significant that a recent study showed that people can accurately judge 90% of a stranger’s personality simply by looking at what they have on their feet.

As much as they serve humankind a practical purpose, shoes have also become an all-consuming obsession for women. Ladies step into skyscraper-high, anorexically thin heels and endure pinching pain for that fleeting moment of pure pleasure derived from slipping into gorgeous shoes. Gorgeous shoes that are inspired, intricate, and almost impossible to wear.

Christian the magician

I am what they call “shoebsessed.” In my opinion, shoes make the outfit—they are the outfit—and everything else is gravy. I am an indiscriminate lover; every shoe stirs primal emotions in me quite the same way Impressionist paintings give me visual orgasms. But as much as I appreciate the beauty in (almost) every shoe—and names such as Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier and Nicholas Kirkwood are music to my ears—nothing can make me clammier, more light-headed than the sight of red soles. 

“Designing shoes is magician’s work,” Christian Louboutin once mentioned. And indeed he is right. Shoes do possess magical properties. They can instantly elevate moods, make us feel sporty, sexy, and—even if we hate to admit it—just a teeny bit dirty. And that’s the beauty of Louboutin. He has a shoe for every fantasy, even the filthiest ones. He cloaks these dreams in such elegance that women do not feel the need to hide them in the deepest, darkest recesses of their minds. His shoes allow women to express their sexuality in an artistic, although sometimes subconscious, manner.

If a single pair of red-soled wonders induces palpitations, then a roomful of bejewelled pumps, studded sneakers, stilettos, and lace-up boots may just cause a heart attack. Christian Louboutin, a multidimensional exhibition celebrating the 20-year career of the iconic French shoe designer, did just that.

On view in Toronto’s Design Exchange, the exhibition’s first stop outside London’s Design Museum where it opened last year, Christian Louboutin showcases over 250 pairs of feet jewelry. The collection is installed in the art-deco gallery with shoes grouped into different themes: “Travel,” “Boots,” “Transparency,” “The Showgirl,” “Entertainment,” “The Handcrafted,” “Architecture,” and “Fetish.” There’s also “The Atelier,” “5 Stages of Shoe Construction,” “Life and Times Theatre,” “Biography Room,” and “The Shadow Theatre,” which, taken together, detail the life of the man and the history of the brand.

Upon entering the hall, you are greeted by a whimsical, brightly lit fairground carousel, the panels of which feature the designer’s travel photographs. Instead of the usual horses, velvet-covered swings hang from its canopy; and instead of children, shoes inspired by Louboutin’s travels sit pretty on the swings’ platforms. By standing still, the observer is toured around the world by the revolving merry-go-round. Each swing represents a different part of the globe, from Bali to Shanghai, Mexico to Africa, with footwear demonstrating different artistic techniques as well as avant-garde materials. Truly, in Louboutin’s world, you don’t take your shoes traveling. They take you.

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