All Photographs Courtesy of Christian Louboutin.
Around the corner from the apartment where the shoe designer Christian Louboutin grew up, in Paris’s 12th arrondissement, is the imposing Palais de la Porte Dorée museum. From the age of 10, Louboutin would spend his afternoons there. “It was the first place that opened me up to other civilizations and objects,” Louboutin says. “African thrones and masks, totems from Polynesia, feathers, shells—it had a huge impact on me. It made me dream.” On a visit a few years ago, Louboutin noticed that the building was in disrepair; he made a donation and struck up a friendship with Hélène Orain, the director. “She told me, ‘We need to do something with your eye in the museum.’ ” Olivier Gabet, the director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, came in to help curate, and the result is “Christian Louboutin: Exhibition(niste),” which opens this month. In addition to sketches and shoes and photographs and holograms, there are contemporary works by Allen Jones, David Lynch, and the digital artist Lisa Reihana, among others; a sixth-century gold cross on loan from the Musée de Cluny; and a 16th-century painting of a male courtier whose attenuated leg wears a stocking that blends seamlessly into his slipper. The latter was the inspiration for Louboutin’s capsule collection the Nudes, a group of pumps and flats in nine shades made to disappear onto the legs and feet of women of all skin tones. “I wanted to include things I love and that have influenced me,” Louboutin says.