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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Spectacle et rêves à Paris (pageantry and dreams in Paris)



Cette semaine je suis allée aux deux expositions de musée à Paris. Les deux sont de créateurs de mode….un des chaussures, l’autre des vêtements. Les deux sont des artisans exceptionnels….un inspriré par les arts d’autres cultures, l’autre inspriré par l’illustre passé et la tradition raffinée de son propre pays. Les deux sont le plus grand figure de son métier respectif. Et pour les deux c’est la première exposition muséale en France consacré à leur travail.


Mais c’est là que les similitudes s’arrêtent…..


L’exposition de Christian Louboutin au Palais de la Porte Dorée est appelé « l’Expositioniste » et c’est vraiment un spectacle ….. grande, coloré (beaucoup de rouge bien sûr), high tech, fastueux….en fait cela m’a rappelé de l’exposition de Christian Dior il y a deux ans au musée des Arts décoratifs (MAD). Pas supremant parce que les deux étaient conçues par Olivier Garbet, directeur du MAD.


This past week I went to two museum exhibits here in Paris. Both exhibits present the work of fashion designers….one a well-known designer of shoes, the other a not-so-well-known designer of clothing. Both are exceptional artisans….one inspired by the arts and culture of countries other than his own, the other inspired by the illustrious past and sophisticated traditions of her own country. Both are grand masters of their craft and for both, the exhibits are the first in France to feature their work.


But there the similarities end….


The much-heralded exhibit of Christian Louboutin at the Palais de la Porte Dorée, called “Expositioniste,” is truly an over-the-top grand spectacle….large (10 rooms), colorful (of course lots of Louboutin’s signature color: red), high tech and VERY glitzy. In fact, as I made my way through the exhibit, I was reminded of the glorious Dior exhibit two years ago at the Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD). Not surprising I later learned, as the Louboutin was curated by Olivier Gabet, current director of MAD and curator of the Dior exhibit. However, to me the Louboutin was a Dior “wannabe,” paling in comparison. Still it reflected the personality and style of Louboutin who art directed the exhibit.



En revanche, l’exposition de Lee Young-hee au musée nationale des arts asiatiques – Guimet (« l’Étoffe des rêves de Lee Young-hee ») est plus petite, les couleurs tranquilles, simple, élégante….


In contrast, the exhibit of Lee Young-hee at the Musée Guimet, the national museum of Asian art, called “The fabric of dreams of Lee Young-hee” was much smaller, the colors muted, the presentation simple and elegant, as befit a designer bound to the textile and clothing traditions of her native Korea.


Je crois que presque tout le monde connais Louboutin, le créateur de chaussures avec des semelles rouges, très populaire avec des célèbres comme Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé et Lady Gaga.


I think almost everyone knows Louboutin, creator of shoes (usually impossibly high stilettos) with bright red soles (Pantone 18 1663TP)….popular with celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.


Mais pas tout le monde connais Lee Young-hee, dont moi-même. Elle est considérée comme l’une des plus grandes figures de la mode coréenne. Sa spécialité ? Le hanbok, vêtement traditionnel des femmes coréennes composé d’une jupe et d’une veste, qu’elle a réinterprété à l’envi au fil de sa carrière.

L’exposition s'articule autour des trois pans du travail de Lee Young-hee : « ses recherches consacrées au vêtement coréen traditionnel, sa création de hanbok modernes, et ses créations Haute Couture . »


I doubt however that everyone knows Lee Young-hee, myself included. She is considered one of the greatest fashion figures in Korea and is best known for her knowledge, reconstruction and interpretation of the “hanbok,” the traditional garment worn by Korean women consisting of a cropped vest and long skirt. The exhibition explores her exhaustive research dedicated to traditional Korean clothing, her modern interpretation of the hanbok, and her Haute Couture collections.

Cropped bolero jacket and skirt of traditional Korean hanbok


The sign that Louboutin says started him on the path to designing footwear. As a child, Louboutin often visited the museum (then the Museum of African and Oceanic Arts) and this sign forbidding the wearing of stiletto heals in order to protect the mosaic floors made a lasting impression on him.


Genesis of the signature red sole: in an effort to add some pizzazz to his work in the early 1990's, the designer grabbed the nail polish of his assistant and applied it to the shoe's sole....



Traditional fabric and the "hanbok" provided inspiration for Lee Young-hee


Early designs of Louboutin, often hand sewn by him in his studio...




Early hanbok designs of Lee Young-hee...



Child's hanbok


Incredibly tiny hand stitching on patchwork from Lee Young-hee's studio


A selection of Louboutin's most iconic creations:






The "Marie Antoinette"


Lee Young-hee's cropped vests:




Not made for walking....shoes designed for filmmaker/photographer David Lynch and his series of erotic photos featuring Louboutin's "impossible-to-walk-in" shoes....





I found the presentation of Lee Young-hee's haute couture collections drab and uninspiring. However, a Google search revealed the following images of her gorgeous modern interpretation of the traditional hanbok....








The 8 different skin tones represented in Louboutin's pioneering Nude series, in which the designer "played with the visual effect that arises from a chromatic unity between the leg and the foot, thus lengthening the silhouette."


Lee Young-hee's modern interpretation of the hanbok as presented in the exhibition....


....and on the runway....


So there you have it.....the French stiletto of Christian Louboutin....


....and the re-interpreted Korean hanbok of Lee Young-hee....




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