Dazzled at DX

A lustrous retrospective of Christian Louboutin’s remarkable designs is on display at Toronto’s Design Exchange. It is a feast for the eyes and it tickles the fancy, but it also inspires a kind of poetic contemplation of how art, architecture, form, fantasy and function all intertwine in his work.

It begins with a whimsical merry-go-round, this fête of sequins, leather, plumage, silk, wood, metal, ribbons and more. The boots are made for walking as well as for gazing, starstruck, at their soaring heights and fringed delights.

From colour-blocking to spikes to showgirl beading, glamour is everywhere. There is softness and delicacy in pinks and powder blues and the classic appeal of shiny black patent. The many sides of femininity are explored: pretty, strong, dainty, resilient and defiant, all at once, and sometimes in the same shoe.

It seems fitting that this bold exhibition is housed so close to where ideas turn to money-makers and where legends are born. In this case, however, the exchange is about craftsmanship for appreciation and appreciation over time. It is retrospective rather than speculative; the reputation solidly behind the investment.

There is a collaboration of curves, from toe to heel to leg, the shoe as extension of the human artistry it complements. Ballet to cabaret, there is a blurring of lines in the reach for beauty.

Stories abound at every turn, both real and imagined:  dreams of wearing that pair dancing and those to the opera; these with a suit and those with a great pair of jeans. It is where couture translates to real life, and where runway leads to closet.

In the midst of all the colour, shimmer, drama and flair, Cinderella is alive and well, jubilant in her pretty slippers, enveloped in magic and waiting for her moment on the red carpet. And speaking of red carpet moments, one awaits at the end.

It is impossible not to feel at least a little effervescent upon seeing this exhibition.

For more information: www.designexchange.org

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