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Christian Louboutin being awarded for contributions to fashion artistry

September 3, 2019

Christian Louboutin shoes in the archives at the Museum at FIT. Image courtesy of FIT


The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT is honoring French footwear designer Christian Louboutin for his impact on the fashion business.

Mr. Louboutin’s signature red soles may have originated in a spur-of-the-moment move in 1992, as the designer took an assistant’s nail polish and painted the bottoms of a prototype shoe crimson, but they have become iconic. On Sept. 4, Mr. Louboutin will be presented with the 2019 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion at the council’s annual luncheon, which is sponsored by Nordstrom this year.

“Christian Louboutin is one of the most famous shoe designers in history and has had a tremendous impact on the fashion business because he’s become almost synonymous with sensuous, luxurious shoes,” said Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, New York. “The idea of the shoes with the red soles has become symbolic of the luxury sensuous shoe.”

Following the luncheon, the Museum at FIT will be opening an exhibition centered on Paris on Sept. 6. Among the shoes showcased in the “Paris, Capital of Fashion” display will be a bespoke design by Mr. Louboutin.

Ahead of the luncheon, Luxury Daily talked to the event co-chairs Melissa Mafrige-Mithoff and Amelia Ogunlesi, as well as Dr. Steele, about what to expect from the event this year, the impact of Mr. Louboutin’s work and some of their favorite Christian Louboutin designs.

From left, Couture Council Luncheon co-chairs Melissa Mafrige Mithoff and Amelia Ogunlesi. Image courtesy of FIT

What is the purpose and significance behind the Couture Council Luncheon?
Dr. Steele: The purpose of the Couture Council Luncheon is to raise funds to support the mission of the Museum at FIT. The objective of the Museum at FIT is to educate and inspire diverse audiences through innovative exhibitions and public programs that advance knowledge of fashion.

Thanks to Couture Council memberships and the Couture Council Luncheon, we’re able to mount world-class exhibitions of fashion, add important pieces to our permanent collections, organize events like our famous fashion symposium, bring in curators and scholars from all over the world to speak and more, all free to the public.

The Couture Council Luncheon is significant because it calls attention to the great work that’s done by the Museum at FIT. Additionally, it provides an opportunity at the beginning of the fall fashion week for people who love fashion and are inspired to celebrate great designers and support great institutions, like the Museum at FIT, to get together. It truly is the first event in the fall that everyone can get dressed up for.

How would you describe Christian Louboutin’s impact on the fashion business? Why has the Couture Council chosen to honor him with the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion?
Dr. Steele: Christian Louboutin is one of the most famous shoe designers in history and has had a tremendous impact on the fashion business because he’s become almost synonymous with sensuous, luxurious shoes. The idea of the shoes with the red soles has become symbolic of the luxury sensuous shoe.

The Museum at FIT, in conjunction with its advisory committee, chose to honor him because shoes are central to fashion, and Christian Louboutin has had a profound impact on women’s shoe styles. Every year, the Museum at FIT works with a team of experts, which includes people from stores and magazines, people like Ken Downing, Linda Fargo, Glenda Bailey and Hamish Bowles, global scholars and curators and representatives from the board of the Couture Council to choose someone who’s made a great contribution to the fashion world, specifically to the artistry of fashion.

Specifically, the award is for someone who makes us remember that fashion is not just about ordinary functions, like covering us up and protecting our feet, but is also about the whole process of beauty, self-expression and creative artistry. This is an award which looks not just at who has been the trendiest designer of the year, but who, over the course of his/her career, has made great contributions to fashion as an art form and a form of visual and cultural expression.


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#TBT Louboutin Week: Christian Louboutin’s Ballerina Ultima emphasizes the connection between the image of the ballerina on pointe and the iconography of extreme high heels. Louboutin crafted this style as part of a collaboration with David Lynch for his 2007 ‘Fetish’ exhibition. This shoe was featured in MFIT's 2014 #DanceandFashion exhibit. #MFITat50 “David Lynch asked me to design shoes for his exhibition. I told him about something I’d wanted to do for a long time – to approach the realm of fetishism and create shoes that were not made for walking.” ______________ On September 4, Louboutin will be honored with the #CoutureCouncil Award for Artistry of Fashion at the annual luncheon, which benefits the #MuseumatFIT Link in bio. #fashionhistory #shoehistory #shoedesign #BallerinaUltima #ThrowbackThursday #fetishshoe #DavidLynch @louboutinworld

A post shared by The Museum At FIT (@museumatfit) on Aug 29, 2019 at 6:25am PDT

Instagram post from the Museum at FIT

Why do you think Christian Louboutin deserves the Award for Artistry of Fashion? From your perspective, what is his impact on fashion?
Ms. Ogunlesi: There is a reason why the name Louboutin is known all over the world. He has brought elegance back into the fashion of shoes.

You can instantly spot his creations with their iconic red-lacquer soles, which make a bold statement of refinement and taste. To wear Christian Louboutin’s shoes is to be a part of fashion history.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: Mr. Louboutin is an innovator. He demonstrates this not only with his fabulous footwear, handbags and in beauty, but he also has kept the integrity of his brand, and even the most simple of his shoes make a statement.

While most designers license their names, Mr. Louboutin has kept complete control of his essence. When you see his product, you know it is a Louboutin. How many designers can you say that about?

What in particular draws you personally to the Christian Louboutin brand?
Ms. Ogunlesi: The architecture of Christian Louboutin’s shoes make them very comfortable to wear, something that cannot be said about some other high-heeled shoes.

When you wear them, you can feel your posture automatically changing. Your walk is more elegant, regal and confident. You know that you are pulled together from head to toe.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: I love Christian Louboutin shoes for so many reasons – one of them being that the look says wow, and I feel wow wearing them. When I walk in a room with his shoes on, I feel more confident and put together.

Nothing beats the classic look of the red soles on a Louboutin heel. I simply feel well dressed and special when I put on my Louboutins.

What are some of your favorite Christian Louboutin styles, and why? 
Ms. Ogunlesi: My favorites are his simple pumps. They are uncomplicated, yet still sophisticated, and are a perfect complement to any outfit. All you have to do is pick the color, and you have a perfect finish.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: I love the So Kates. They are clean and finish every look.

But I am in love with the Pigalle Follies Ombre. They have all of the taste and chic of the Kate, but the ombre makes more of the wow factor.

The Couture Council Luncheon co-chairs wearing Christian Louboutin shoes. Image courtesy of FIT

How will this year’s luncheon be different from those in previous years? 
Ms. Ogunlesi: This year is truly special as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Museum at FIT. We are excited to mark the founding of this wonderful institution by celebrating Christian Louboutin, whose designs have done so much to revolutionize the fashion shoe industry and generate so much excitement.

People are coming from far and wide to honor a designer who brings such elegance and beauty to their wardrobes.  It will be truly amazing to see a room filled with his signature red-lacquer soles.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: This year’s luncheon is going to be electric, yet elegant at the same time. Mr. Louboutin brings his own style of rock ‘n’ roll glamour that previous years haven't had.

Every past honoree has incredible style, but Mr. Louboutin has a classic and iconic style, which brings a little something extra, and I am honored to be co-chairing.

What are you looking forward to most about hosting this year’s event?
Ms. Ogunlesi: The Couture Council Luncheon is the perfect way to kick off New York Fashion Week.  It is the first big event after Labor Day when people return to New York City from their summer vacations, refreshed and ready for the fall.

I am very much looking forward to basking in a sea of fashion and honored to be part of this memorable occasion.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: I am looking forward to seeing everyone. This year’s invite list is extra special with Mr. Louboutin being the honoree, and I can't wait to see what everyone is wearing to honor him, including myself.

Why is supporting the Museum at FIT important to you?
Ms. Ogunlesi: The Museum at FIT is one of the world’s most distinguished institutions devoted to the past, present and future of the fashion industry. Because of its location within the institute, the museum is a laboratory where one can experience fashion as living art.

By supporting the museum, we are supporting the education of up-and-coming designers, preserving fashion history and showcasing fashion as an important form of art.

Ms. Mafrige-Mithoff: Supporting the Museum at FIT is important to me because it supports the students of FIT, who are our future in fashion, and simultaneously, remembers the great masters of fashion from the past.

The council has taught me so much about the fashion industry and has allowed me to be a small part of preserving and helping designers continue to build their legacies. It has been incredible to be a part of such a distinguished group.