I am probably the least shoe-centric person in the world. I don’t think about them. I don’t look at them. I don’t notice them. I never buy them. Right now I have two pairs, one from a thrift shop, another wearing out. D is insisting we go ‘shoe – shopping’? (what: in a pandemic?). But this has always been a source of exasperation for him, as well as for my mother when I was a child, when I remember us digging our nails into each other’s flesh in fury as the ritual of me being dragged around Clarks and other places around town went from beyond being a chore to a mutually unbearable aggravation; hair being pulled in rage, and choked whispers from in and outside of the changing room. I am laughing about it now as I write this, but at the time, as now, what a person put wore on their feet just garnered less than zero interest – the hot and cold of changing rooms and the Saturday shoppers air outside; the unpleasant ‘fitting of the shoe’ to the foot with those unfathomable ‘shoe horns’ sliding down my satin socks: the having to choose from endless brown ugliness: I utterly detested the entire procedure.
How different it was in Sex And The City, that apotheosis of shallow self-obsession that was nevertheless rather gleamingly addictive (and which is of course now back in town in the new ‘And Just Like That’, brilliantly skewered in this scathing New York Times article which only makes me want to see it even more); a ‘groundbreaking series’ set in Manhattan in which Sarah Jessica Parker and cohorts would virtually live to be able to buy a new pair of extortionately expensive Christian Louboutin heels, amassing great collections of them gloatingly in their closets. And, despite my own shoe lethargy, I must admit that I certainly can see the appeal. Although these towering, shining structures definitely do look like torture (how can a person possibly walk in such contraptions with such terror for the tendons and the foot and toes so distorted? Isn’t it agonizing? I remember my mother coming back home after a day at the department store and just throwing them onto the carpet); there is a definite beauty to a high stiletto heel; particularly one in red and black, the vestiges of an endless Robert Palmer video.
The Glamour : (even Louboutin nail polish gets a promotional video by David Lynch)…
Venturing since 2016 beyond meisterwerks for feet, enamel for the nails, handbags and leather wallets, Christian Louboutin, like any fashion businessperson worth their salt, decided put his name behind a whole collection of perfumes, surprising in their whimsical design given the sheer sleekness of the shoes; the aesthetic – alarmingly tacky in some of the bottles’ cases, somewhere between Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, ersatz Egyptology (the designer has a house in Luxor, his biological father from the country) and the cutesy tchotscke dollness of Harajuku Lovers Gwen Stefani (though I have to admit I have a slight penchant for the obelisk- encircling crocodile on the right).
The newest release in the Louboutin series, a rather gorgeous amber labdanum from the recent Loubiworld Intense Collection, is Loubiprince (who comes up with these names? Really. ‘Loubiprince?’), front and centre in this picture, writhing with snakes like the head of Cleopatra (the box, a luxurious red confection just like something to slip shoes in, also including a more modest cap for ‘casual use’ presumably in case you are too embarrassed to take this out in public, although it has to be said that is so heavy it would make an excellent murder weapon (“Can I help you officer?” —-stands nonchalantly spraying his ruby red harem masterpiece).
Unlike rival Jimmy Choo, whose scent releases could not have been more banal and generic, cheapening the brand in my view (again, I only know about all of this because of SATC, which educated me in shoe-ology and the reverence for all the beloved brands such as Manohlo Blahnik, one of the other fabled shoemakers coveted by the ladies, and who also has some fragrances on his roster), rather than go for a glitzy synthetic chemical bouquet and call it a perfume, Loubiprince is actually a deliciously wearable blend of natural ingredients; simplistic, in a way, but deep, rich, natural, satisfying and long-lasting. Created by perfumer Fanny Bal, who presumably was given free rein with decent materials because they are very tangible here, aside a spritzing of peppercorns in the top note, this is in essence just a very slow, languorous journey from labdanum to vanilla by way of tonka. I kept on waiting for a nasty wood note, some ‘oud’, to come along and wreck the proceedings last night as I sat sniffing the back of my hand over rooibos, but it never did. Instead I woke up this morning to a scent of pure vanilla; cosy, smooth – not ‘psychologically complex’, sure, but definitely the kind of scent you would reach for when you just want amber and you want the amber without all the background nonsense – pared down, easy – precisely the opposite, in fact of Christian Louboutin’s shoes.