My Desk...My Phone…My Luck has Turned!
A 2-minute email break between back-to-back meetings Thursday yielded an unusually unique opportunity. I was invited back to the Brooklyn Museum for a second time in 2 months--to see Nana, to experience Gaultier and to (potentially) meet a high profile Mystery Guest! A judgement call was at hand; should I muster up the courage to ask my boss about leaving work or miss an unconfirmed meeting with an unnamed fashion industry celeb? It was a toss up, and chance won out.
L to R: Yayoi, Ricky, me, Joshua, Lisa Small (Brooklyn Museum Curator of Exhibits) and Christian Louboutin! [photo credit: Sara Devine, Brooklyn Museum]
4PM at the coat check in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum was the starting point of an insightful say hello #gaultier foray into French fashion. After a few minutes of uncertainty, we were notified that the meet up was on. Cooly clad in a plaid flannel suit and silver tipped shoes, Christian Louboutin approached the group. The gentleman was more classy and demure than I imagined!
Group shot at the beginning of the Gaultier exhibit [photo credit: Sara Devine, Brooklyn Museum]
As admiration of his signature shoes spread, Louboutin was invited to join forces with high profile peers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Rodarte, Peter Som. In an intimate conversation, Louboutin reflected on his design philosophy, his experience of working with Jean Paul Gaultier and red as his signature sole color.
On Gaultier, Louboutin says, "What has Jean Paul, is that he's a big storyteller. So when he starts to speak, it can be endless. He has 2 ways to speak--he is a very good storyteller… and on the other side he has a very technical, not point of view, but language.The first part was very easy for me to relate to and to try to talk about his ideas and his ideas into shoes. The second part was very complicated for me because he has very big knowledge about technique about dresses and I have none."
On designing and collaborating, Louboutin says, "When I do a shoe, the shoe is the center of my concentration. And I never associate it with clothes…but when you work for someone, then you have to adapt. This is different behavior. This is not for you, this is --first of all--for a woman, but this is also done for a couturier. so you have to respect his vision, but also not only the vision but the mind. And you have to see how much he wants your vision to be quite there or your vision to be quite subtle and disappear into his silhouettes and...so it's a different perspective….The shoe is going to embrace the silhouette, but not all all going to be the star of the show. So working like someone like him [Gaultier] makes you modest."
On his red soles, Louboutin says, "You don't even think about it. But red is existent and so I thought, well, if it has to be one color, it should be this color which is natural to femininity anyway."
Responding to an inquiry of why the red sole, Louboutin noted that he was inspired by primary colors and pop art, and shared the story of the first red sole. In the early 90s, as Louboutin compared a prototype to his sketch of a pair of mary janes, he noted that something was missing. At the moment he turned the shoe to examine the bottoms, he looked up to see his model painting her nails. He commandeered the bottle and emptied it on the shoe. Since then, it stuck. Red was different, it was feminine and though most women in Paris during the '90s denounced color, the subtlety of red lips, nails or cheeks stood out as a common theme to Louboutin. In 2007, Louboutin's lawyers trademarked the oriental red lacquer--what Louboutin dubs "true red."
Nana, Jean Paul Gaultier's premier model
Hearing the story straight from the shoemaker was much different than reading about it from a stagnant source. It was an unparalleled opportunity which ended with an equally exciting second glance at the exhibit. A double take allowed for the discovery of details overlooked--I hadn't noticed the makeshift "cone bra" on Nana or the intricate beading that made up the cheetah on the front of the couture evening gown. Stunning exhibit--see it while you can! (Check out my initial post on the exhibit HERE)
Haute Couture "Russia" collection gown with leopard skin made of beadwork; this took 1,060 hours to craft!