Christian Louboutin Tapped Choreographer Sadeck Berrabah to Fete 30 Years of Red Soles
PARIS — There are plenty of differences between a fashion show and one put together by a footwear designer, especially if the latter goes by the name of Christian Louboutin.
The shoemaker took his entertaining presentation format to a new level on Thursday, gathering guests in the lavish halls of the Opéra Comique theater for a bash celebrating the 30th anniversary of his signature red soles.
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Whereas fashion designers usually peek from backstage for the final bow and join guests after the show, Louboutin was seated in the audience throughout the whole performance, surrounded by the likes of Avril Lavigne, Rossy de Palma, Ashley Park, Sabrina Elba, Law Roach, Maye Musk, Natalia Vodianova, Elsa Hosk and Coco Rocha, to name a few.
While keeping the tradition of hosting events spotlighting his love for dance and nodding to his beginnings as an intern at Les Folies Bergère, this time the shoe designer departed from the cabaret world and tapped renowned choreographer Sadeck Berrabah to embrace an edgier, more graphic concept.
Berrabah is best known for his vision in “tutting,” a dance style based on intricate movements of the body and hands in geometric shapes and sharp angles, usually performed by large groups coordinated in perfect synchro. His choreographies and working with the likes of Shakira and Chris Brown, as well as orchestrating the dance performance of Moncler’s 70th anniversary event in Milan last year, helped him garner attention — and followers — on social media.
“I’ve been seeing his work on Instagram for a very long time and it’s always in black-and-white.…And I love his work. As a kid, I used to love kaleidoscope and when I looked at his first videos, I thought ‘Wow, that’s exactly like looking in the kaleidoscope’,” said Louboutin.
The shoemaker thought that adding a pop of red to Berrabah’s language would have resulted in an even bigger impact.
For the show, Berrabah was flanked by 50 dancers wearing the brand’s “Astribottas” black-and-white boots exclusively made for the occasion. To further amplify the graphic effect of their movements and overall optical illusion, the stage was furnished with mirrored elements, while the live performance of opera singers was alternated to the soundtrack’s rhythmic beat.
“[Berrabah] is a genius, a great choreographer. He’s super nice but also we connected immediately for one thing: He’s sketching everything. He sketches figures and then after, he folds them, replicates them, mirrors them.…Because he also loves architecture and that’s one thing that I always love. So I thought we’re connected on so many levels. I didn’t need to tell him more,” recalled Louboutin, revealing he even declined his team’s suggestion to join and see rehearsals.
“I know the guy. I know his work. Why would I come? To say what? I want to be surprised just like everyone,” said the designer about watching the performance for the first time at the event.
Before and after the show, Louboutin was busy with picture duties and chatting while guests sipped Champagne under the frescoed ceiling of Opéra Comique’s historical ballroom. One of the oldest theatrical musical institutions in France and part of the six official National Theatres, the location holds particular value for the designer. “It’s a beautiful place, and it’s important to support it because 15 years ago it was going to be transformed into a parking lot and was going to be destroyed,” he said about the choice of venue.
Adding to its gilded walls, red-tinged displays showcased the Flamencaba capsule collection Louboutin developed with actress and longtime friend de Palma.
Launching in May, the range follows Caracaba and Greekaba, the first two chapters of the annual cabas series that is aimed at exalting craftsmanship. Hence, this capsule included men’s and women’s shoes and fans with intricate embroideries, frills and saturated colors, inspired by Spain’s Andalusia region and the local flamenco tradition.
Among the highlights, a handbag shaped as crystal-covered bootie was embellished with the embroidery of two flamenco dancers resembling Louboutin and de Palma. The same adornment also appeared on a black canvas tote bag that additionally featured the brand’s name twirling around the style and gold studs. Another mini bucket bag in satin with handcrafted fishnet-embellished handle was inspired by the shawls worn by Andalusian dancers, instead.
As in the previous projects, the Flamencaba capsule will have a charity bent. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Centro Coreografico María Pagés, an organization that aims to promote dance and Spain’s cultural heritage as a model of social and civic commitment for the benefit of children, adolescents, genders and vulnerable groups.
At the Louboutin event, two separate rooms also showcased the main collection of the brand, which matched the celebratory energy with maximalist and sparkly pumps, platform sandals and booties. Standing out in the dazzling offering were pumps and a matching clutch covered in iridescent rainbow crystals as well as an electric blue variation of the “Astribotta” knee-high boot featuring metallic studs hand-applied in a wavy pattern.
Needless to say, the new styles came with red soles, building on the longevity of the brand’s distinctive element. This originated in 1993, when an early prototype of a silk satin shoe dubbed “Pensée” arrived to Louboutin’s studio from the Italian factory but didn’t match his sketch nor expectations in terms of optical energy. The legend was Louboutin noticed his assistant’s red nail polish and asked her for the bottle to paint the shoe’s sole on the spot.
“At the beginning, I planned to change the color of the sole every season, it started with red but then it could go to green or blue,” said Louboutin. “But at some point, a client came to me and told me she met the most adorable man after he saw her walking in the street and noticed her red soles. So I thought ‘let’s stick to red, it makes good stories’.”
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