It’s no secret that actress Blake Lively is a major fan of designer Christian Louboutin. Since stepping onto the seen as Upper East Sider Serena van der Woodsen in the fashion-centric New York-based TV show “Gossip Girl,” Lively has gained fame not only for her on-screen work, but for her incredible style. Her impact on fashion has included starring in multiple campaigns for Chanel, Gucci and L’Oreal, as well as becoming a muse for Louboutin.
In 2010, Lively was on hand for the Footwear News Achievement Awards, where she presented Christian Louboutin with the Person of the Year Award. “I own so many of his shoes that I should be institutionalized. His light and sparkle are even more incredible than his stunning crystal Pigalle pumps,” said Lively at the time. “If you ask me, they are heartbreakingly perfect. See — I do have a problem.”
And just a few months later, Christian Louboutin Outlet named a shoe after her. The Blake — which features multicolored straps fastened with buttons — was released in March 2011.
Lively’s love for the red-soled shoes has continued to grow, and it’s been on display during her recent whirlwind promotional tour for her shark-attack movie “The Shallows” and the Woody Allen-directed “Cafe Society.”
Last week, Lively was spotted in Christian Louboutin Pyrabubble sandals on her way to “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” She was also seen two more times that week in shoes from the designer, including sparkling pointed-toe Louboutins for a night out, and label’s studded nude T-strap sandals.
In May, Lively attended the Cannes Film Festival, during which she continually made shoe statements. Lively also provided surprises such as hitting the red carpet for the France festival’s opening ceremony with cheap Christian Louboutin as her date and giving followers the ultimate shoefies for each outfit. During the photo call for “The Shallows,” Lively opted for a pair of black and white striped Louboutin pumps, which surely made the list of her Top Cheap Louboutin looks.
Another unforgettable shoe moment came last year, when Lively made headlines for changing into 10 very different outfits and 10 pairs of shoes during the press tour for “The Age of Adeline.” After Lively’s stop at “Good Morning America,” she stepped out in a bold Roksanda look paired with Christian Louboutin UK Front Double glitter pumps.
— The French footwear designer partnered with former professional athlete-turned-retailer Henri Tai on looks to be worn at the Closing Ceremony.
On Saturday, Cuba’s Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel bid farewell to the country’s Olympic delegation — 120 athletes are heading to Rio de Janeiro, and with more than their typical flag-emblazoned uniforms. French luxury footwear designer Christian Louboutin and Henry Tai, a former professional handball player and founder of French online retail shop SportHenri.com, joined forces to design formal looks for the athletes to wear at the Closing Ceremony — an event that in many ways doubles as a global fashion runway. The pieces were designed and fitted in consultation with current and former Cuban Olympic athletes — one of several reasons why this Cuban-inspired collection stands apart from the many others that have popped up in the last year.
Even before President Obama announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba last July, the fashion industry has pounced on the country in 2015 and 2016 as a source of inspiration and marketing magic, hoping to capitalize on Americans’ and Europeans’ curiosity about the country and how it might change after over 50 years of isolation from the U.S. But most designers aren’t interested in Cuba’s future, choosing to glorify a prerevolutionary, sugar-coated Cuba instead of making a significant effort to engage with the country’s culture in a realistic or modern way.
Take Stella McCartney’s resort 2016 presentation for example: at an event in New York, the British designer staged her idea of a Cuban fiesta to promote the collection’s bright florals and colorful, voluminous dresses. The brand even went so far as to hire Che Guevara and Fidel Castro look-alikes to sit at a picnic table, smoke cigars and play dominos. Since then, almost every major magazine has used the country as a setting for editorials while designers take Instagram-ready inspiration trips — never without a colorful vintage car in the background, evidence of Americans’ tendency to confuse poverty with quaint preservation.
But Chanel’s resort 2017 runway show takes the cake. The brand flew in 700 people for a touristic few days that culminated with a presentation along Havana’s Paseo del Prado, where models wore shirts that read “Viva Coco Libre!” and Guevara-style berets. “This is all about my vision of Cuba,” Lagerfeld told The Cut. “But of course, what do I know about Cuba? It is very childish, my idea.” While other destination resort shows serve to cultivate a customer base in various markets, Chanel is not sold in Cuba. The brand’s president Bruno Pavlovsky explained that the point was to provide “content for the rest of the year.” And then, they were gone without a trace.
Perhaps the only exception to fashion’s superficial and reductive approach to Cuba is Proenza Schouler’s resort and spring 2016 collections. Designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez visited the country and met the latter’s estranged family members. It inspired vibrant and textured collections that didn’t riff on prerevolutionary motifs.
Louboutin and Tai explain in a video about the Olympic project (see below) that they both were struck with the idea to design looks for the Cuban team while in the country doing a photo shoot two years ago. (Louboutin said in an interview that he’s been visiting the country for 15 years.) The fashion worn by athletes in the opening and closing ceremonies are points of great pride for many countries — and an opportunity to showcase domestic design talent — so it’s interesting that the Cuban government would authorize the French men’s proposal. (The French ambassador to Cuba also reportedly helped make this happen.) Any information about the team’s uniform design has not been heavily publicized in the past. Similarly, another communist country, China, enlisted a well-known designer for the first time to create its team’s ceremonial looks this year.
Louboutin and Tai, however, appear to have made efforts to both incorporate feedback from current and former Cuban athletes and inject the looks with distinctly Cuban elements — including bold graphic sneakers and kitten heels, Guayabera-inspired jackets and prominently placed flag patches. (A “Sports Henri” patch is also prominent.) The distinctive and sharp looks are a stark upgrade from the yellow jackets worn by both men and women at the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony.
Certainly, this design project is a fantastic marketing opportunity for both Louboutin and Tai, as the corresponding photo shoot and video released this week demonstrate. And the Cuban government, perhaps aware that more eyes than ever will be on their team in Rio this year as the world contemplates its future, ensures its athletes looks strong and modern in front of the cameras. And while, in an ideal world, that design talent would come from within the country, fashion that helps the athletes look and feel their best on the world stage is more important than it may initially seem. As poverty and injustice still hold Cuba back from its greatest potential, something as simple as joyful, quality uniforms can be a powerful symbol of the future.