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Friday, April 25, 2014

Red Shoes: from Louis XIV to Christian Rizzo

by Raphaele de Boisblanc

Red high heel shoes cover the set of Christian Rizzo’s ni fleurs, ni-ford mustang performed by the Lyon Opera Ballet (May 7—9 at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House). Many stories and works of art have involved this iconic footwear in the past. Below is a short list of our favorite red heel cameos in history, art, and pop culture. Please add any we may have left out in the comments!

Louis XIV, the Sun King, aka the trendsetter
A pair of high heels was once an essential accessory for men, and red soles were a must-have for the French King.

Louis XIV wearing his trademark heels in a 1701 portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud

“The Red Shoes,” the story
You may remember the Hans Christian Anderson story of a girl entranced by a pair of red shoes. A folktale about vanity and redemption, she learns later to "be careful what you wish for, because it may come true.”

Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, for Hans Christian Anderson's "Red Shoes"

The Red Shoes, the film
In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film adaptation in glorious Technicolor, the coveted footwear takes the form of toe shoes worn by Moira Shearer.

The Red Shoes, the public art installation
In 1986, during a ballet-heavy season, BAM commissioned an installation by artist Ann Slavit, who drew her inspiration from The Red Shoes film to create a massive pair of inflatable red ballet slippers that dangled over the corner of the Peter Jay Sharp Building.

The Wizard of Oz, the iconic object
Dorothy’s ruby slippers
are among the most treasured and recognizable in film history. Here they symbolize escape and a way to return home.

Kinky Boots, the musical
The musical—about a struggling British shoe factory owner who forms an unlikely partnership with a drag queen to save the business—has won six TONY awards, including Best Musical and Best Score for Cyndi Lauper.

Zapatos Rojos, protest art
Red shoes symbolize something much grimmer in Mexican artist Elina Chauvet's "urban protest" that honored the hundreds of women and girls killed in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Christian Louboutin versus YSL, the red sole law suit
In 2011, Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent over the use of red soles (for which Louboutin is known) in their Resort collection. The case was dismissed in 2012, concluding that only Louboutin can make red-soled shoes, except when the shoe is also red. In the end, no one owns the color red.


  1. how did i not know about giant red shoes draped on the side of BAM? Love this so much. :-)

  2. I always love red shoes!Nice blog you have here..Thank you for posting!

  3. This is great, love red shoes!

  4. Yes, sorry I didn't know about the shoes dangling off the BAM Bldg. At the Lyons Ballet performance I was disappointed the red shoes never danced. They were more like flowers scattered about the stage.

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