French designer Christian Louboutin — he of your christian louboutin Sydeny — is intending to appeal a recent New York Court decision that enables rival company Yves Saint Laurent to go on its unique scarlet-soled pumps. Louboutin had his signature trademarked in 2006, although the decision could ultimately change that, permitting legions of copycats to capitalize on the red sole’s se-xy appeal.
The truth has caused some confusion from 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 because it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable as well as the shade of passion,” he told The New Yorker in March. But red also carries connotations of wealth and power, particularly in the background of fashion and footwear. Its potent symbolism and strange history give some comprehension of why it remains this sort of attractive color for shoe designers — and why they are willing to battle in court over its use.
In Western societies, red long served being a symbol of ferocity and power, worn by soldiers, monarchs, the papacy as well as other important figures. The Ancient Greeks and Romans carried red flags in battles, so that as late as the 1800s soldiers wore red from 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” — a sign of his power. It’s a tactic that has 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 in their red “power suits” today.
Red also signified privilege: Red dyes were costly to produce, so just those with power and status can afford to utilize them. (Chinese People mentioned that red dye was made 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 restricted to princes or nobility. (Among the people’s demands through the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany in the 16th century was the right to wear red, and, naturally, french Revolutionaries adopted colour being 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 demonstrates that his louboutin Sydeny had not just red heels but red soles at the same time. However it was Louis XIV of France who made them the “it” item among Europe’s monarchs. Red heels were essential to the Sun King he passed an edict stating that only members of the nobility by birth could use them. According to Philip Mansel’s Dressed to Rule, the painted heels demonstrated that nobles did not dirty their shoes. They also indicated that their wearers were “always ready to crush the enemies from the state at their feet.”
French Revolution banished the “Louis heel,” although other European nobility continued wearing them, for example the English. But red shoes would resurface again — in culture along with fashion. Hans Christian Andersen used the red shoe as being 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 in the 1920s and ’30s, however, depict rouge heels less symbols of class oppression and power, but of fun and coquetry. A drawing from the 1920 catalog on the Fashion Institute of Technology’s archives in Ny shows a slim, elegant woman within 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 from the Wizard of Oz swapped Dorothy’s silver shoes in the book for ruby slippers, that have red soles. Dorothy’s slippers not merely conveyed magic and whimsy, in addition they gave her confidence and said something regarding the transformative power of fashion — or of a 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 color he uses, an orangey rouge, is often called “Valentino red.”) From the 1970s, Yves Saint Laurent — known for his gender-bending, se-xy fashions that empowered women — established the monochrome shoe, which happens to be entirely one color — from your leather upper to the inside towards the heel and 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 your red sole not only screams “Louboutin” — furthermore, it reveals something concerning the wearer. She 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), in addition to s-exy and possibly even naughty. In their profile of the shoe designer, the newest Yorker called the red soles “a marketing and advertising gimmick that renders an otherwise indistinguishable product instantly recognizable.” Yet for most designers and consumers — and in many cases, most likely, for Louboutin — the red sole is much more than that.