The Syrian despot’s wife has a taste for the designer’s shoes. Is he in deep trouble? Plus, when is it OK to indulge one’s quirky tastes?
Is Christian Louboutin toast now that we know his overpriced shoes are the favourite footwear of Asma al-Assad?
Poor ol’ Christian really isn’t having a good 12 months, is he? If he thought losing the case against Yves Saint Laurent – in which he claimed that the latter company’s red-soled shoes were an infringement of Louboutin’s trademark – was bad, one only can imagine the oh-la-la-ing going on in his studio last week. The Assad emails revealed that Asma harbours a particular, if baffling, fondness for Louboutin’s more repulsive designs – a revelation that garnered even more media attention than her husband’s appreciation for Right Said Fred – and images of the shoes were duly splashed across newspaper pages. So that can come as some comfort to Christian, perhaps: his designs are deemed by newspaper picture editors to be more photogenic than Richard Fairbrass.
Personally, I confess myself surprised by the shock expressed by some that the Assads were planning shopping trips to Harrods and bingeing on iTunes while protesters outside were being slaughtered. Really, did anyone expect something else? Bashar to be stricken with contrition while he snickered at sanctions? Asma to be bathing herself in apologetic ashes? Hell, no! Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Bashar was sending his wife dirty jokes about world leaders and she was cooing over crystal-encrusted £3,000 Louboutin stilettos. They’re like a pair of evil despots from a Mel Brooks movie, those two, in their adherence to cliche.
In any event, who else would buy £3,000 crystal-dusted stilettos, or shoes with spikes sticking out of the tips? No, those shoes were made for women who either are the wives of despots or wish they were.
This is why Louboutin will, I suspect, not be sweating the small stuff, the small stuff in this case being an association with Bashar Assad. I’m assuming you haven’t been in a Louboutin store in some time, Martina, but let me tell you, Louboutin shoes? They’re not all classic and chic. In fact, quite a lot of them are downright trashy, as they always have been – Louboutin, after all, originally modelled his designs on those worn by the women he would watch dance on stage at Le Palace, a Parisian nightclub. And, frankly, if a man can convince the world to spend more than a grand on shoes that basically look like the footwear for what my grandmother would call “ladies of the night”, I don’t think he’ll have many problems with an inconvenient diplomatic incident.
If nothing else, Christian, console yourself with this thought: Imelda Marcos is no longer in power.
I read in a style magazine recently that, as girly fashion is in this season, I am “allowed to indulge” my love of frills and pastels. Is it rude of me to think that I didn’t know I needed anyone’s permission to do so?
Sharon, by email
Yes, incredibly rude but also very possibly indicative that you have been breaking the law for several years. No, not the legal law – the fashion law. Breaking that results in seven years imprisonment in a wardrobe that is hung only with offerings from Jane Norman, C&A and River Island on a bad day. Quail, fashion law-breakers! Thank goodness I'm here to save you from yourselves!
This explains the curious language some fashion writers use when discussing trends. You see, they operate under the belief that fashion designers and fashion trends aren’t just there to give people inspiration and provide new clothes, which people can buy if they like. Rather, designers are like fashion parliament, passing laws every six months to which we all must adhere. Hence the idea that this season’s girly trend “allows you”, Sharon, “to indulge” in wearing what you like to wear. Last season, such things in your wardrobe were verboten – literally, verboten – and the wearing of them would have resulted in you being forced to work the shop-floor of Primark on Saturdays.
Fashion sceptics mock the idea of one fashion trend being in this season and then being out another, but that is because they are confusing the concept of “being in” with “being obligatory” when all it means is “being more available than usual on the shop-floor”. One can hardly blame sceptics for this mix-up because it is the fashion writers who reinforce this idea when they use such daft lingo as “be allowed to indulge”.
So wear your frills any time you like, Sharon. Hell, wear frills one day and goth biker the next – whatever floats your boat. As our Graham from Blind Date would say in his quick reminder, The choice … is YOURS!
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from Hadley Freeman