While some feminists see vertiginous heels as sexual enslavement, legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin believes the opposite.

Super-high heels can free women, says legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who insists that wearing his towering six-inch stilettos is a “form of liberty” — even if it means women have to walk slowly and carefully in his iconic red-soled creations.

“Women do not want to give up wearing high heels,” the designer told AFP in an interview ahead of The Exhibition[nist] , a retrospective of his 30-year career, that opens in Paris today.

While Louboutin also makes trainers and flat shoes, he admitted that when it comes to the spike-heeled classics that made his name: “I don’t think about comfort when I design. No shoe with a 12cm (5 inch) heel is comfortable… but people do not come to me looking for a pair of slippers,” said Louboutin, who helped bring high heels back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s.

According to the designer, they are not meant to be worn all the time, but super high heels allow women to express themselves and break free of crushing norms. “To be a woman is also about enjoying one’s freedom to be feminine if you want,” he said. “Why renounce (high heels) when you can have them and flats?”

Christian Louboutin launches The Exhibition[nist] — the largest ever exhibition dedicated to his multi-referential work. (photo: courtesy of Christian Louboutin)

Even if they can only totter around in their Louboutins, that is no bad thing, he told AFP. “I don’t want people to look at my shoes and say: ‘They look really comfortable!’ The important thing is that people say: ‘Wow, they’re beautiful!'” He also added that if the shoes “stop you running”, that is something “positive”.

Having learnt his art under Roger Vivier, the man who claimed to have invented the stiletto, Louboutin became a household name in the 1990s after Princess Caroline of Monaco fell for one of his first solo creations. Pop stars from Madonna to Tina Turner and Jennifer Lopez were soon competing with half of Hollywood for fittings.

The Exhibition[nist] retrospective took the designer three years to realise, and it opens today at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris. (photo: courtesy of Christian Louboutin)

But even as some luxury brands like Dior, led by feminist designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, have taken an axe to towering heels, Louboutin insisted they still had their place. “People project themselves and their stories into my shoes,” he said, pointing to a particularly high pair of intricate lace boots called Corset d’Amour, embroidered with scenes of love-making.

Louboutin revealed his life-long fascination with heels was sparked when he was 10 years old and saw a sign banning the shoes at the Palais de la Porte Doree — the museum now holding his retrospective. “I started to draw them because of that sign,” he said, which was put up to save the museum’s parquet floors.

On the topic of heels as forbidden pleasures, he expressed “the fact that high heels were forbidden played on the unconscious…there was also the mystery and the fetishistic side… the simple drawing of a high-heeled shoe is often associated with sexuality.”

Leather-crafted mannequins in a variety of skin colours featuring the Les Nudes series. (photo: courtesy of Christian Louboutin)

Louboutin also credited the sign with plunging him into “the universe of curves” which was to shape his art. He also insisted that is art was not just about making heels higher and higher, he has also been working on making his shoes disappear into the wearer’s leg in a series which he calls Les Nudes — in a variety of skin colours — as well as designs which lengthen the leg.

Other highlights of the often cheeky show, which runs until 26 July, include a hologram of a shoe that turns into the burlesque star Dita Von Teese, as well a series of Louboutin-sporting nudes shot by the American film director David Lynch.

Louboutin rejoices in the fact that his shoes have now become so iconic that his name has become a shorthand for luxury and sexiness, popping up in rap songs, films and books. “Pop culture is neither controlled or controllable, so I am very happy about that,” he added.

The Exhibition[nist] is open to public from 26 February to 26 July. Online tickets are now available on https://lexposition.christianlouboutin.com/.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.