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French designer Christian Louboutin — he in the christian louboutin Sydeny — is likely to appeal a recent Ny Court decision that enables rival company Yves Saint Laurent to keep their own scarlet-soled pumps. Louboutin had his signature trademarked in 2006, however the decision could ultimately change that, permitting legions of copycats to take advantage of the red sole’s se-xy appeal.
The case has caused a little bit of confusion in the fashion community. (Can’t YSL find another color — say, yellow — without taking Louboutin’s signature?, they ask.) For Louboutin, having 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 along with the shade of passion,” he told The Latest Yorker in March. But red also carries connotations of wealth and power, especially in the background of fashion and footwear. Its potent symbolism and strange history give some insight into why it remains this kind of attractive color for shoe designers — and why they are likely to battle in the 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 Traditional Greeks and Romans carried red flags in battles, so when late as the 1800s soldiers wore red from the field in order to intimidate their enemies. In the 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 which has remained well-liked by executives and politicians: Think about the Wall Street execs in the ’80s using their red suspenders or ties, or Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi inside their red “power suits” today.
Red also signified privilege: Red dyes were expensive to produce, so just those with power and status could afford to put on them. (Chinese People mentioned that red dye was developed 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. (One of several people’s demands through the Peasants’ Revolt in Germany during the 16th century was the authority to wear red, and, obviously, french Revolutionaries adopted colour as being 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 implies that his louboutin Sydeny had not merely red heels but red soles at the same time. But it really 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 proclaiming that only people in the nobility by birth could wear them. According to Philip Mansel’s Dressed to Rule, the painted heels showed that nobles did not dirty their shoes. They also established that their wearers were “always willing to crush the enemies from the state at their feet.”
French Revolution banished the “Louis heel,” although other European nobility continued wearing them, such as 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 his morality fairytale The Red Shoes. Clearly, he shared french Revolutionaries’ distrust of red footwear. Fashion illustrations through the 1920s and ’30s, however, depict rouge heels less symbols of class oppression and power, but of fun and coquetry. A drawing coming from a 1920 catalog at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s archives in New York shows a slim, elegant woman in the 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 from the Wizard of Oz swapped Dorothy’s silver shoes within the book for ruby slippers, which in fact had red soles. Dorothy’s slippers not just conveyed magic and whimsy, in addition they gave her confidence and said something in regards to the transformative power of fashion — or of any particular accessory or garment.
More recently, red soles have brought glamour and s-ex interest 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 colour he uses, an orangey rouge, is normally called “Valentino red.”) In 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 — from your leather upper on the inside for the heel and the sole. YSL produced purple, blue and, yes, red monochrome shoes during the entire ’70s and ’80s. Another famed shoemaker, Charles Jourdan — under whom Louboutin apprenticed in the ’80s — also painted the soles of his louboutin shoes Sydeny.
Today, a flash of any red sole not only screams “Louboutin” — it also reveals something concerning 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), in addition to s-exy and possibly even naughty. Within its profile in the shoe designer, the newest Yorker referred to as the red soles “an advertising and marketing gimmick that renders an otherwise indistinguishable product instantly recognizable.” Yet for many designers and consumers — and in many cases, most likely, for Louboutin — the red sole is more than that.