French designer Christian Louboutin — he from the christian louboutin Sydeny — is about to appeal a newly released New York Court decision that allows rival company Yves Saint Laurent to carry on its unique scarlet-soled pumps. Louboutin had his signature trademarked in 2006, however the decision could ultimately change that, permitting legions of copycats to capitalize on the red sole’s se-xy appeal.
The truth has caused a certain amount of confusion in the fashion community. (Can’t YSL find another color — say, yellow — without taking Louboutin’s signature?, they ask.) For Louboutin, who may have painted the soles of his shoes red since 1992, red implies sensuality — and serves as a crafty, subtle branding tool. “I selected the color since it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable as well as the colour of passion,” he told The Newest Yorker in March. But red also carries connotations of wealth and power, particularly in the reputation of fashion and footwear. Its potent symbolism and strange history give some insight into why it remains such an attractive color for shoe designers — and why they are willing to battle in court over its use.
In Western societies, red long served like a symbol of ferocity and power, worn by soldiers, monarchs, the papacy and other important figures. The Traditional Greeks and Romans carried warning signs in battles, so when late as the 1800s soldiers wore red inside the field in order to intimidate their enemies. In her book The Red Dress, fashion historian Valerie Steele describes how Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy arrived in Paris in 1406, victorious and wearing “a red velvet suit lined with grey fur and worked over with gold foliage” — an indication of his power. It’s a tactic containing remained loved by executives and politicians: Think of the Wall Street execs from the ’80s making use of their red suspenders or ties, or Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi inside their red “power suits” today.
Red also signified privilege: Red dyes were costly to produce, so solely those with power and status could afford to wear them. (Chinese People mentioned that red dye was developed of dragon’s blood — imbuing the colour with rare magic.) Many European societies imposed sumptuary laws, which dictated what certain social classes could wear, and red was often reserved for princes or nobility. (Among the people’s demands throughout the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany throughout the 16th century was the authority to wear red, and, needless to say, french Revolutionaries adopted the color like a symbol of rebellion.)
One specific mark of class distinction was the red-heeled shoe, which aristos began sporting in the 1600s. Charles II of England wore them; a 1675 portrait of him implies that his louboutin Melbourne had not just red heels but red soles also. But it was Louis XIV of France who made them the “it” item among Europe’s monarchs. Red heels were essential for the Sun King that he passed an edict stating that only individuals the nobility by birth could wear them. As outlined by Philip Mansel’s Dressed to Rule, the painted heels demonstrated that nobles did not dirty their shoes. They also revealed that their wearers were “always ready to crush the enemies of your state at their feet.”
The French Revolution banished the “Louis heel,” although other European nobility continued using them, including the English. But red shoes would resurface again — in culture also in fashion. Hans Christian Andersen used the red shoe like a symbol of wealth and vanity in the morality fairytale The Red Shoes. Clearly, he shared the French Revolutionaries’ distrust of red footwear. Fashion illustrations from your 1920s and ’30s, however, depict rouge heels not as symbols of class oppression and power, but of fun and coquetry. A drawing from a 1920 catalog on the Fashion Institute of Technology’s archives in New York shows a slim, elegant woman inside a fur-trimmed coat and cloche hat wearing adorable black shoes with red heels. The surrealist designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous “shoe” hat — an upside-down shoe worn on one’s head — enjoyed a shocking-pink heel.
The 1939 version in the Wizard of Oz swapped Dorothy’s silver shoes inside the book for ruby slippers, that had red soles. Dorothy’s slippers not merely conveyed magic and whimsy, they also gave her confidence and said something about the transformative power of fashion — or of any particular accessory or garment.
More recently, red soles have brought glamour and s-ex entice the shoe. Valentino Garavani, the perennially tanned and fabulous Italian couturier, has intermittently produced red-heeled chr1stin since 1969 to select his famous elegant red gowns. (The colour he uses, an orangey rouge, is usually called “Valentino red.”) From the 1970s, Yves Saint Laurent — known for his gender-bending, se-xy fashions that empowered women — established the monochrome shoe, that is entirely one color — in the leather upper on the inside to the heel as well as the sole. YSL produced purple, blue and, yes, red monochrome shoes through the entire ’70s and ’80s. Another famed shoemaker, Charles Jourdan — under whom Louboutin apprenticed within the ’80s — also painted the soles of his louboutin shoes Sydeny.
Today, a flash of a red sole not just screams “Louboutin” — furthermore, it reveals something regarding the wearer. She actually is, like her Medieval and Renaissance precursors, well-off or upwardly mobile. (Louboutin’s shoes cost between $400 and $6,000.) The red makes her feel powerful (like John the Fearless or YSL’s women), as well as s-exy and perhaps even naughty. In their profile of the shoe designer, the latest Yorker called the red soles “an advertising and marketing gimmick that renders an otherwise indistinguishable product instantly recognizable.” Yet for most designers and consumers — and also, probably, for Louboutin — the red sole is more than that.