In 1969, anthropologist Brent Berlin and linguist Paul Kay proposed a theory of colour universality. Informed by their research into just under 100 languages, they revealed that red was always the third colour named as a language would progress, after black and white. Red was used by Homo sapiens to decorate the walls of Palaeolithic caves with paint made from pulverised madder, red ochre and cinnabar. Running through our veins, red is linked to our strongest emotions – love, desire, anger – and the ways that they colour the human body as blush or flush. In 1993, designer Christian Louboutin reached for his assistant’s bottle of red nail polish and began painting the soles of one of his prototype heels. Little did he know that the ruby veneer would mark such a significant development in the story of red. With the stroke of a tiny brush, the colour became the signature of a house just beginning its grand march towards international renown.
Across these pages, we step into the red sole to celebrate Louboutin’s 30th anniversary via this thoroughly modern AW23 collection. ◉