Christian Louboutin’s shoes are coveted the world over by ladies who lunch and even by rappers who refer to them as “red bottoms”. Though now mainstream because of their popularity and distinctive soles, his pieces are still a splurge for most, showing the stark difference between notoriety and affordability.

Monsieur Louboutin’s footwear have often been called wearable works of art and for his Fall 2011 lookbook, he is bringing that statement to life. He tapped photographer Peter Lippmann to recreate classical paintings, showcasing art, but also his new collection.

One of the pieces he chose was Portrait d’une négresse which was painted by Marie-Guillemine Benoist in 1800. It features a young black woman with an exposed breast. It was painted six years after slavery was abolished, thus it became a symbol of emancipation for black people as well as for women.

Out of all the paintings Christian Louboutin chose, it is amazing that he was inspired by the image on the left. Black women the world over love his designs from Oprah Winfrey to Rihanna and it is past due for a luxury accessories designer like himself to recognize black women in a lookbook as we so avidly purchase and wear his pieces. The image represents the beauty of the black female form, which has come under great scrutiny of late.

He is also giving us an art history lesson. So many designers are inspired by art from the past as well as the present, and Christian Louboutin is urging us to step outside the normal confines of fashion and explore further. It is always said that luxury is a lifestyle and he is putting true meaning to that statement.

Here is some more information on the shoe included in the lookbook image:

“Marie-Guilleme Benoit’s masterpiece, Portrait d’une negresse, has long been held as a symbol of emancipation and a fine balance between steely determination and femininity. The contrast between the model and her garments is echoed in the Balda Booty, where supple ivory nappa meets ebony patent leather. The stark contrast created through the fusion of fabrics and colour is softened by the delicate ballerina style ‘pointe’ toe and fine ankle strap detailing.”

Visit for more information.

What do you think of Christian Louboutin’s Fall 2011 lookbook? What do you think of his being inspired by Portrait d’une négresse?

-Faith Cummings

Image Source.

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  • Bronze

    This article is so well written. Thank you for the art context.

    I am 39 and have never heard of this portrait. Now I’m on Amazon looking for more
    “symbols of emancipation for black women.” I never understood why paintings like this were so highly revered. Like, what was the big deal? But after years of hoochie-couchies, video vixens and now cunt culture…..I fully appreciate the beauty the portrait conveys.

    This weekend (after moping the floors, dusting the shutter and busting suds) I will be learning about this period piece and will teach it too my son. I can’t afford the shoes but I sure can enrich my soul with our hidden history.

  • truly inspired