October 30, 2012

In Conversation with Christian Louboutin

My personal Photo
Autumn is making its way to the city. All around town, the leaves are changing gorgeous rust and golden colors. Nothing says autumn like a brisk stroll through a sun-strewn Central Park. Nothing that is, except The New Yorker Festival. I love that the readers’ diverse interests shape the magazine’s festival. There were so many events that I wanted to attend, if only there was more time… I ended up spending the afternoon with Lauren Collins and Christian Louboutin.

It goes without saying, that I adore a great shoe. When it comes to shoes, it’s difficult for me to pick favorites, but any list would have to include Mr. Louboutins’. While I generally favor discretion, Louboutins suit me. The lasts are shorter (from toe to heel), the arch is higher and the width is narrower across the foot- all things that work for those with narrow feet. Mr. Louboutin was unapologetic when it came to the fact that his shoes are designed with a narrow foot in mind.

Courtesy of Christian Louboutin 
I’ve always loved the openness of the Louboutin atelier- a highly specialized workshop, where all types of Louboutins are made to measure and customized in every way imaginable. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing a few Christian Louboutin exhibitions that have forced me to question beauty and the notion of adornment. The Ballerina Fetish Shoe comes to mind.

That being said, I was very curious to hear Mr. Louboutin speak, in his own words, in an intimate setting. Mr. Louboutin was incredibly considerate, humble and demure with a great sense of humor. I loved when Christian Louboutin spoke of the drawing that inspired him to begin obsessively drawing shoes as a child. When he speaks about shoes, his energy and passion are palpable. Mr. Louboutin’s business is predicated on that passion.  

Courtesy of Christian Louboutin 
Mr. Louboutin was decidedly clear that he designs shoes for women because, women purchase shoes for themselves. “I’m working as someone who loves women,” the designer exclaimed. Mr. Louboutin spoke of taking a balanced approach in order to design shoes that men, but more importantly, women love. Mr. Louboutin explained that he likes his shoes to be worn, not simply because it keeps him in business. “Life is on the people. A shoe should be living its life rather than just being.” A few lovely care and maintenance tips were provided, which I will share in an upcoming post.

Every element of Mr. Louboutin’s designs is carefully considered. Even subtitles like “the musicality of a shoe.’’ One of my pet peeves is the sound of a poorly constructed shoe. For Mr. Louboutin, the sound a shoe makes is pure evocation. A Louboutin shoe commences with a sketch. Summer collections are dreamed up while floating down the Nile on his traditional Egyptian sailboat (in better times) or in Brazil. Winter collections are conceived in cold locales. The way people walk; conversations, movement, dance, architecture, fine art, objects (and pieces of objects), textiles and travel are all sources of inspiration. 

Once the sketches are completed, the team at Louboutin’s factory in Milan turns the sketches into prototypes. Shoe design is a matter of proportion. A well-made heel works with the center of gravity. For someone who loves the design process, it was a pleasure to hear about the process of seeing the prototype, women in the studio trying it on, tailoring and cutting the shoe. It’s truly a gift when someone can share with you, their passion for what they do. 

A few lovely bits---

On his biggest pleasure- “To design.”

On Minimalism- “Sometimes people talk about minimalism, but it isn’t minimalist. It’s just boring.”

On Men and their shoes- “Men are very proud to have their shoes for a long time.”

On designers he prefers to see his shoes paired with- “I never think of clothing when designing. There are no designers I prefer. I like to be surprised and to see shoes in a different way. I like to see women appropriate themselves to the shoe."

What makes an elegant woman? - “It comes from the heart.”

A word of advice- “ I was lucky to have a passion and work from that. It’s still a passion. I never had a plan, which made me enjoy every moment of the journey. What makes you happy is going to make you successful.”

October 14, 2012

Thursday Evening

My Personal Photo

In the midst of a busy autumn, this little invitation arrived on my desk. Over the past month, there have been few moments where I’ve been able to untether myself from work. The launch party for Vogue’s The Editor’s Eye was the perfect excuse to throw on one of my Yves Saint Laurent cocktail dresses, a Chanel accessory or two and a great pair of heels. 

The Editor’s Eye is a wonderful tribute to Vogue’s 120-year history, and the fashion editors or visionaries who conceptualize a story from start to finish. Selecting models, locations, photographers, and clothing to create those arresting images. I can’t wait to spend more time with this book and to share a few fashion tomes that I love. The evening was a lovely celebration of Vogue’s women of today, Grace Coddington, Tonne Goodman, Phyllis Posnick and Camilla Nickerson and those from the past who paved the way- Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Jade Hobson, Polly Mellen and Babs Simpson, who never cease to inspire. And of course, the night was a heartfelt toast to the woman who brings out excellence in everyone. 

Such a lovely evening indeed…

October 1, 2012

Style Essentials- The Bespoke Silk Blouse

Bespoke Silk Shirt, J. Crew Trousers and Miu Miu Shoes 

If there’s one bit of luxury that I can’t get enough of, it’s having the opportunity to work directly with a designer or studio to create a bespoke piece. It’s pure joy. The process of creating an item from scratch is inherently personal. It’s the nuance of your tastes and preferences laid bare. Working directly with designers and studios on pieces has made me acutely attentive to the subtleties of my style. 

I’ve long had a special place in my heart for bespoke shirts. Perfect button downs from Charvet worn with Alaia skirts just like Sofia Coppola. Ever such elegant silk shirts that drape just so. For someone, with a slim build and narrow, pointy shoulders, coming up with a few good designs for shirts has been a small mercy. 

Drapey, slouchy, but tailored to perfection, my silk shirts in ivory have long been wardrobe essentials. There’s just something so polished and at the same time nonchalant about a luxurious silk shirt. 
When Philip Cheng and Jack Chui of Soong Salon De Mode came to New York back in the spring, I had my mind made up, that I would have this shirt made*. We spent a Saturday morning looking over my inspiration images, fabrics and sketching a few ideas. It never ceases to amaze me that this pair can bring a garment that I envision to fruition. Philip Cheng and Jack Chui are such perfectionists and do beautiful, precise work. It’s the type of classically beautiful work that you don’t see often and that always garners compliments. 

Something kept telling me to have a couple of my beloved silk shirts made in a lighter momme weight. I found a beautiful ivory/cream silk that manages not to be too sheer. Over the summer, my shirts arrived- gorgeously packaged, immaculately pressed and folded with acid-free tissue paper. A few fabric swatches and plenty of extra buttons accompanied the package. 

Worn half-tucked like a French Voguette, I’ve been living in my silk shirts. During fashion week they were most certainly a chic go-to.

* The cotton voile shirt with puff sleeves and a Peter Pan collar is just as enchanting as I imaged.