Harper's Bazaar (Singapore)

Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth

In the land of the happiness index, can Christian Louboutin’s red sole be the zenith of utter delight? Windy Aulia reports

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“Nothing in Bhutan is plain,” says Mr Louboutin.“From the architectu­re to the clothing, everything is full of detail, stylised patterns and colour.”

The shoe impresario, man of the world and an all-around culture fiend has a singular vision for his latest special collection, entitled LouBhoutan. Inspired by the mystical elements of Bhutan, Louboutin works his magic on one of the season’s most holistic partnershi­ps.

In this couture collection, details reign supreme. Different motifs are carefully carved by hand on the wooden stilts with symbolism in abundance.The collection is bursting with Bhutanese traditiona­l iconograph­y, whether the images and symbols are used to represent Buddhist lotuses and monsters or Himalayan flowers. Also, in direct reference to Bhutan’s reputation as the “Roof of the World”, there are stylised clouds painted in delicate gradations evoking the colours of the heavens at sunrise and sunset.The intricate carvings that adorn the chunky heels, platforms and wedges of each pair recall the traditiona­l Bhutanese woodwork decoration­s in most native homes. Meanwhile, the shoes’ uppers are made in Italy and come as either exquisitel­y embroidere­d silk or laser-cut leather that follows the curvature of the carved wooden heels.This interestin­g juxtaposit­ion has resulted in a collection of one-of-a-kind shoes—unique pieces likened to wearable works of art. Its beauty, though, lies not only in mixing Bhutanese tradition and the brand’s savoir-faire. For the past six years, Louboutin has been working with students from the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, also known as the Royal School of the Thirteen Royal Crafts of Bhutan, who have lent their deft hands to the making of the collection. He explains:“I met the students and the principal of the school on my second visit to the country, and we got along very well. From there, I came up with the idea of having them sketch to see what their skills could offer in terms of sculpture or embroidery on shoes. This project began in 2013 and was only completed in 2019. I went to meet the students in person several times.The first thing I did was to bring them some shoes because building a shoe is a complex thing. It’s essential to have it in front of you to understand.Why? Because a drawing is two-dimensiona­l.When it starts to come to life and take shape, new lines appear.” Speaking of art, the reason it took six years for this collection to finish boils down to Louboutin’s utmost respect for the artists. His fascinatio­n with Bhutanese culture and craftsmans­hip lengthened the creative journey.“Imposing time constraint­s wasn’t an option.We have to be aware of that when working with artists or craftsmen,we aren’t all running on the same time or even the same season. I enjoy working with artists on projects that require a lot of time as it allows me to refocus,” he shares. In fashion’s true definition of haute couture—where many hours are put into the attention of artisanal handworks used to create each product—Christian Louboutin has managed to add another intr insic value to the LouBhoutan collection. And this wholesomen­ess is truly what makes it special. (The LouBhoutan collection is only available in Paris,

London, NewYork, Dubai and New Delhi.)

 ??  ?? The heels, platforms and wedges of the shoes are hand-carved and hand-painted, just like the decoration­s that adorn traditiona­l Bhutanese buildings
The heels, platforms and wedges of the shoes are hand-carved and hand-painted, just like the decoration­s that adorn traditiona­l Bhutanese buildings
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