Christmas lists at the ready: Christian Louboutin and The Royal Ballet have joined forces for a collection of exquisite party shoes referencing The Sleeping Beauty, a mainstay of the company's iconic repertory. For Mr Louboutin, the collaboration felt like an obvious step. “Dance has always been central to my work,” the fashion designer tells Vogue. “I was inspired by the magic of their performances, and The Sleeping Beauty [returning to The Royal Opera House] seemed like the perfect occasion to encapsulate the world of fairy tales and princesses in a shoe.”
Alongside three festive colourways for the designer’s Miragirl heel – plus a flat version for those with dance floor ambitions – the collection features the newly designed “Sleeping Rose” shoe. Inspired by the ballet’s famously challenging Rose Adage, in which four suitors attempt to seduce Aurora with a rose, the spiked golden heel nods to the spindle that poisons the princess and the thorns that grow up around her as she slumbers.
As for the other designs? A ballet dancer’s pointe shoe was a clear first point of reference. “I looked at the shoe as a whole,” explains Louboutin. “The pointe shoe disappears into a ballerina’s legs, extending their form. With the Miragirl shoes, I played with PVC to create the same illusion. Meanwhile, the chiffon ankle ties mirror the ribbons of the ballerina’s shoes – and I wanted to encapsulate the magical world of The Sleeping Beauty with the delicate crystals sparkling on the toe.”
The campaign’s star is Royal Ballet principal dancer Lauren Cuthbertson, who will take on the role of Aurora in January. It’s a neat partnership: Cutherbertson has had a life-long love affair with shoes – and not just of the ballet kind. “My first pair of proper heels were bought with my first-ever pay cheque from The Royal Ballet when I was 17,” she reveals with a laugh. “They were classic black peep-toe heels – and I wore them to death.”
Of course, those are hardly the only shoes Cuthbertson has worn to their literal breaking point. “On a day when I’m rehearsing Beauty, I’ll get through two pairs of pointe shoes easily,” she adds. In total, the company’s dancers use 6,000 pairs a year – which is why, for every pair of Louboutins sold from the collection, a pair of pointes will be donated to The Royal Opera House.
2020 is already set to be a big year for Louboutin, with a landmark exhibition coming to Paris’s Palais de la Porte Dorée in February. “It is all very top secret still at the moment,” explains Louboutin. “All I can say is that it will explore my creative process and celebrate the many artists and artisans who continue to inspire me every day, with some pieces made especially for the exhibition.” As for his future ambitions? Seeing Her Majesty in a pair of red bottomed shoes is definitely on the list. “I love to see every woman wearing my shoes, as they all wear them in such different ways, but if I must name one, I would say the Queen,” he confesses.
The limited edition collection is available from 22 November, exclusively in the Christian Louboutin boutique on Mount Street.
The Sleeping Beauty runs until 16 January at The Royal Opera House.
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