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Point of purchase

March 5, 2017

Victoria and Albert Museum / Rapid Response Collecting / CD.33:1 to 10-2014

Christian Louboutin (2013)

A famous French designer Christian Louboutin whose signature is a shiny and red-laquered soles launched a collection with redefined nude colour. Originally launched in 2013 with five shades of nude and four styles, the Spring/Summer 2016 collection sees the spectrum extended with two new skin-friendly hues, the porcelein Nude #1 and deep chocolate Nude #7, bringing the current range of colours available to seven. Each color has name; No.1 Lea Nue / No.2 Matilda / No.3 Nats / No.4 Maya / No.5 Safki / No.6 Ada / No.7 Toudou.

There was another attempt to extend color spectrum of skin tone earlier in 1962 by Crayola. They changed the name of their pink crayon from “flesh” to “peach”, an acknowledgement that skin comes in more than one shade. However, ‘Nude’ still typically means a shade of beige or peach in the fashion industry. Maybe that’s why this collection became a part of V&A museum. In the fashion industry, nude itself is a very concrete concept of color. Nevertheless, Christian Louboutin explained that “nude is not a colour, it’s a concept”. Different approach to the diversity and the truth that one of the top designer pushed the conversation of diversity is notable.

In V&A, the collection is displayed with 5 different colour of mannequin arms instead of legs to avoid sensitivities. Also, there are 5 different heights of stands that hold up mannequin arms. Tallest stand is for the brightest fake arms. It might seem like bright skin tone is the highest rank above all the other skin tones. The V&A explain this object as; As well as challenging perceptions of the term nude, the collection reflects the changing global economy, targeting women of different ethnicities in parts of the world where middle-class incomes are on the rise. I can not understand why they arranged in this position. It does not feel like any of they explained, but showing superiority. It should be placed in equal height or other expressions, not elaborating way. Also, why they specified the target as middle-class? In actual life, Louboutin is not a kind of middle-class brand. Since Louboutin is a luxury brand, It looks ridiculous.

There are some opposing views about Louboutin’s collection. They insist that when you consider the fact that China is projected to account for a third of luxury fashion spending by 2015, Louboutin’s decision seems like a canny one. Actually, when customer tried to select color on their website, it is still bright skin tone circle. Also quite lots of shoes are in bright color with ‘Nude’ color. Even though this project is for issue making or business extension, It can not be denied that they provoked quite huge impact on the fashion industry.

  1. Solasofia Flat "Ada" N°6 (2017); http://us.christianlouboutin.com/us_en/shop/women/solasofia-flat-ada-n-6.html (accessed 04.03.2017)
  2. A nude for every woman (2016); http://eu.christianlouboutin.com/uk_en/news/en_a-nude-for-every-woman/ (accessed 04.03.2017)
  3. Are these the most important objects of our time? (2014); Horatia Horrod; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/10892924/Are-these-the-most-important-objects-of-our-time.html (accessed 04.03.2017)
  4. Louboutin’s Range Of Nude Shoes Just Got Even Bigger And More Inclusive (2016); Jamie Feldman; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/louboutin-nudes-new-shades_us_56fbed0de4b0daf53aee23ee (accessed 04.03.2017)

    Christian Louboutin extends its ‘nude’ collection to appeal to every skin tone (2015); Linda Sharkey; http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/christian-louboutin-extends-its-nude-collection-to-appeal-to-every-skin-tone-10342084.html (accessed 04.03.2017)

  5. Point of purchase; http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1295130/point-of-purchase-christian-louboutin/ (accessed 03.03.2017)
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