Seeing red

“We want to show people that design is not just about buildings and furniture, that it can be seen in every facet of our everyday life – from our red-soled shoes to the box they came in, the shop we bought them in to the vehicle we took to get there.” So says Shauna Levy, president of the Design Exchange, Canada’s Design Museum – who, since her appointment last year, has aimed to expand the DX’s scope and ambition.

The “red-soled shoes” of which she speaks, of course, are those coveted, iconic, laboriously constructed items created by French luxury designer Christian Louboutin. This summer, the Design Exchange welcomes the master and his celebrated retrospective exhibition, which recently garnered record attendance at the Design Museum, London. Says Levy, “The Design
Exchange is thrilled to offer Canadians the unique opportunity to look into the creative design process behind such a desired brand.”

The exhibition immerses the visitor in the world of Louboutin. It features exhibits from his personal atelier, iconic designs and one-off creations, showcasing his unparalleled craftsmanship and use of unique materials. Examining the diverse sources of his creativity, the visitor will discover how inspirations – from far-reaching travels, film and architecture to performances by showgirls -– are translated into fantastical designs. A section is devoted to the shoes Louboutin designed for the 2007 “Fetish” exhibit, produced in collaboration with acclaimed artist/filmmaker David Lynch. 

Curated by Donna Loveday, head of Curatorial at the Design Museum, London, the exhibition takes over the DX’s historic Trading Floor. It explores the artistry behind the distinguished red soles, celebrating Louboutin’s design method through to the creation of the finished shoe. Incorporating initial sketches, raw materials and recreations of the designer’s Parisian studio, the exhibition aims to reveal the unique fusion of fashion, artistry, engineering and sculpture in every shoe; it also shows how Louboutin is meticulously involved in every step, from initial prototypes, construction and factory production to the company’s innovative storefront planning and design. Says Loveday, “The focus of the exhibition is for guests to get up close and personal with every stage of Christian’s design journey, ultimately revealing how Louboutin shoes have come to represent style, glamour, power, femininity and elegance around the world.” 

Says the designer himself, “I am sure, by seeing the exhibition, the people of Toronto and the city’s visitors will see the passion and the excitement which is necessary behind any creative work and will hopefully share it with me.” 

The DX is pleased to partner with Holt Renfrew, the nation’s destination for leading fashion and retail experiences and a Christian Louboutin retailer, to present the exhibition and welcome the iconic designer to Toronto. Flare, Canada’s fashion magazine, will be joining the activity as the official fashion media partner of the exhibition, including an exciting on-site activation.

“Christian Louboutin at the Design Exchange” will run from June 21 to Sept. 15.