French designer Christian Louboutin — he of the christian louboutin Sydeny — is intending to appeal a recently available The Big Apple Court decision that enables 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 is responsible for a little bit of confusion from the fashion community. (Can’t YSL find another color — say, yellow — without taking Louboutin’s signature?, they ask.) For Louboutin, who has painted the soles of his shoes red since 1992, red implies sensuality — and serves as a crafty, subtle branding tool. “I selected the hue since it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable and the colour of passion,” he told The Latest 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 advice about why it remains this type of attractive color for shoe designers — and why they are able to battle in the courtroom over its use.
In Western societies, red long served as a symbol of ferocity and power, worn by soldiers, monarchs, the papacy and also other important figures. The Original Greeks and Romans carried warning signs in battles, so that as late as being the 1800s soldiers wore red within the field in order to intimidate their enemies. In their 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 that has remained preferred among executives and politicians: Consider the Wall Street execs from the ’80s with their red suspenders or ties, or Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi with 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 utilize them. (Chinese People claimed that red dye is made of dragon’s blood — imbuing the color 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 in the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany during the 16th century was the ability to wear red, and, obviously, french Revolutionaries adopted the hue as a symbol of rebellion.)
One specific mark of class distinction was the red-heeled shoe, which aristos began sporting from the 1600s. Charles II of England wore them; a 1675 portrait of him demonstrates that his louboutin Sydeny had not only red heels but red soles too. But it was Louis XIV of France who made them the “it” item among Europe’s monarchs. Red heels were very important to the Sun King he passed an edict saying that only people in the nobility by birth could use them. Based on Philip Mansel’s Dressed to Rule, the painted heels demonstrated that nobles did not dirty their shoes. But they also revealed that their wearers were “always willing to crush the enemies of your state at their feet.”
The French Revolution banished the “Louis heel,” although other European nobility continued putting them on, for example the English. But red shoes would resurface again — in culture along with fashion. Hans Christian Andersen used the red shoe as a symbol of wealth and vanity in their morality fairytale The Red Shoes. Clearly, he shared french Revolutionaries’ distrust of red footwear. Fashion illustrations from the 1920s and ’30s, however, depict rouge heels not as symbols of class oppression and power, but of fun and coquetry. A drawing from the 1920 catalog at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s archives in New York City 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 — had a shocking-pink heel.
The 1939 version of your Wizard of Oz swapped Dorothy’s silver shoes inside the book for ruby slippers, that had red soles. Dorothy’s slippers not only conveyed magic and whimsy, additionally they gave her confidence and said something regarding the transformative power of fashion — or of the particular accessory or garment.
Recently, red soles have brought glamour and s-ex appeal to the shoe. Valentino Garavani, the perennially tanned and fabulous Italian couturier, has intermittently produced red-heeled chr1stin since 1969 to complement his famous elegant red gowns. (The hue he uses, an orangey rouge, is frequently 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 is entirely one color — from the leather upper on the inside on the heel as well as the sole. YSL produced purple, blue and, yes, red monochrome shoes through the ’70s and ’80s. Another famed shoemaker, Charles Jourdan — under whom Louboutin apprenticed from the ’80s — also painted the soles of his louboutin shoes Sydeny.
Today, a flash of a red sole not merely screams “Louboutin” — in addition, it reveals something in regards to 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), along with s-exy and perhaps even naughty. Within its profile of the shoe designer, the New Yorker referred to as the red soles “a marketing gimmick that renders an otherwise indistinguishable product instantly recognizable.” Yet for several designers and consumers — and even, most likely, for Louboutin — the red sole is much more than that.