Do We Buy Christian Louboutin For Design Or For The Brand?
Remember this? I don't mean to be coy so let me explain. It's a Polyvore imagining how I would wear a new Narciso Rodriguez little black dress.
Turns out I wasn't kidding.
You see, I'm going to New York at the end of next week. To visit my kids, stay in a new hotel, wander through the city looking. (All those dressed up people walking on rough sidewalks past windows.) During said trip, it's possible that I will need to wear my little black dress. It's possible that ever since I acquired said little black dress that I have been wistfully remembering matching Louboutin pumps the fab Barney's salesguy showed me. And it's possible that I am fortunate enough to occasionally receive generous presents.
Let's move to the realm of the certain. This is one of my new shoes. I do have two. I promise.
We might ask, why these? Why did they pester me, for months? Design? Brand? What?
The design is absolutely impeccable and reasonably comfortable. I bought a half size up and had them put a pad in. We Sturdy Gals, even when we Grande Dame it up, aren't a fan of foot pain. Although in my dreams I was wearing what Mr. Louboutin, or his minions, call the Jazz Decollete 100 pump, with a heel height of 3 3/4", in fact I don't do heels higher than 3". Luckily, Mr. Louboutin, or his minions, have deigned to offer similar shoes in the Simple 70. With an internal platform that brings the experienced heel height down to about 2 3/4".
That internal platform also transforms a plain black pump into a terrible object of desire.
Where to start? It was the lines that did me in. The underside curve from heel to sole juxtaposed against the toe. What they call the "almond" toe. Almond as in fingernails - not pointed, not squared, not round. That same internal platform also creates a snub nose, adding a touch of what in a woman we would call "jolie laide." The ugly pretty of a sleek brute. Reminds me of a Chrysler 300, another shape that bedeviled me for months and months and months.
We might well ask, how do we feel about Louboutin's extremely recognizable red-soled brand? The mythic image of the shoe vs. the actual product? Your mileage may vary. I believe I bought the shoes 80% for the design, 20% for the brand. But it's a very mixed 20%. Complex. Worthy, I think, of some deconstruction.
- Did I buy just because they were Louboutins? No. Clearly not. I wanted these shoes, and only these. I searched through 3 stores, passing up dozens of other Louboutins.
- Would I have bought them if they were not Louboutins? Imagine everything else was the same, even to the red sole, but they had been made by some nameless other Italian shoe manufacturer? Not so clear. Maybe. First of all, how would I have known they existed? How would I have become convinced that only these shoes would make my wardrobe for Manhattan complete? I don't, all evidence to the contrary, spend that many of my days shopping. But let's say that fab salesguy had shown me identical nameless Italian shoes. Would I have bought? Maybe. Probably.
However, I wouldn't have paid over $400. So Louboutin's savvy non-marketing, with a red-carpet and celebrities platform, has in my case reaped a luxury premium. Why did I think Louboutins were worth more? Damned if I know. A tangle of inferred quality and desirability. Difficult to deconstruct. Perhaps I wanted some Angelina Jolie bruised-mouth glamor to rub off? To feel that I can participate in a trend, even at 53? Or maybe just to buy status? Which brings us to the next question.
- Do I like the fact that, because of the red sole, everyone knows that I have Louboutins? A flash of yes, and then, no. No. Not really. Which is complicated. I don't mind people knowing I spend a lot of money on items of clothing and accessories. Evidently. In fact, as I have confessed before, luxury goods assuage some unresolved identity issues.
But I do mind the possibility that people will think I own these shoes just because I want to own a name brand, that I am, in fact, a status wh***e. Because while I may be a status loose woman, so to speak, I want to suffer only the censure I deserve. I wish that the red sole did not so clearly identify the maker. I would like to keep my Louboutin love to myself. To my way of thinking, the Louboutin brand, because it's so obvious, has in fact jumped the shark. At least the High WASP shark. I would have loved it more two years ago. When only the cognoscenti knew.
- Will I buck up and cease to perseverate over these issues with luxury goods, as long as I am going to continue to buy them? Good lord I hope so. My new shoes are so beautiful to me that I have one sitting next to me on the sofa as I write. Just to admire the play of light on the leather. Privilege should be enjoyed. Shared whenever possible. Perseverate is the big word of the day. My sister the academic taught it to me.
*If I had a little white dress, or a big one for that matter, I'd be wearing these...