Have critics of the Christian Louboutin x Marvel collection missed the point?

The fashion collaboration has been deemed inelegant by some

Infinity Stones-style embellishment on the Cosmic Alta boots (Dh14,500) and the Sea Warrior handbag (Dh8,700) from the Louboutin x Marvel collaboration. Photo: Louboutin x Marvel
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Famed French shoe brand Christian Louboutin has released a limited-edition collection with Marvel Comics, which is drawing ire from some in the social media universe.

Created as part of the year-long celebration of a century of Disney – which has owned Marvel since 2009 – the collection consists of shoes and accessories for men, women and children, all designed around themes lifted from Marvel comics.

Infinity Stones appear as colourful crystals on the heels of men's and women's styles, including the gleaming blue Cosmic Boot, priced from $2,295 (Dh8,296), and the see-through Imperious Rex sandal, priced at $1,495 (Dh5,490).

Elsewhere, the black and silver costume of Marvel’s Moon Knight character appears as the men's ankle boot Vibrano, for $1,795 (Dh6,592), with a prominent Marvel tag at the back.

Social media backlash

When TikTok user and self-confessed Louboutin fan @redbottombestie did a live unboxing of a pair of the stone-studded Imperious Rex shoes for his followers, many of them were decidedly unimpressed and voiced their displeasure at a perceived lack of elegance.

“I love Louboutin. I love Marvel. Why are these so tacky?" wrote one user, while another compared the collection to flea market finds, and a third commented on the hypocrisy of fashion, saying: “This is one of those 'what’s tacky when you’re poor, but cool when you’re rich' kind of things.”

Social media is a powerful platform for free speech, where everyone can express their opinion; however, it can also be a place where participants fail to see the full picture.

Having fun with footwear

Since launching in 1992, Christian Louboutin has been consistent with two things: The famous red sole of its shoes and a merry disregard for what others think.

The man behind the eponymous label is famous for his sense of playful whimsy and takes his inspiration from almost anything – from the artisans of Bhutan to travels around Brazil and Havana. His shoes are about having fun and about self-expression, and this tie-up is the latest round of his thinking.

As a lifelong fan of Marvel, the designer presumably leapt at the opportunity. Alongside the release of the shoes, there is a limited-edition comic, starring none other than Louboutin himself. Reimagined as an Egyptian archaeologist – in a nod to his own North African roots – he gets to star in his own adventures.

“Who never dreamt of becoming a superhero, really? And I’m lucky enough to be turning into one with none other than Marvel,” Louboutin said of the collaboration.

“I’ve always been fascinated by very visual stories, with lots of mysteries and action. As a child, I had a deep passion for Egyptian gods and pharaohs, but as a teenager, I found that expression through Marvel characters,” he said.

Louboutin's character is a faithful portrait, although lacking the bulging muscles so often seen on superheroes. “I like the fact they didn’t try to picture me as a strong and muscular character, but went deeper in the understanding of my universe,” he said.

Rather than dress him up in a fancy costume, Marvel have instead portrayed Louboutin in his ever-present hat, and with a garland of Infinity Stones around his neck.

“They went into the power of creativity and imagination, [and portrayed me as] someone who makes individuals dream and empowers them. When one manages to make people dream and inspire passion in them, it’s as much a superpower as it is an honour,” he said.

And perhaps this is the point of the collaboration – to make people dream. While critics deride the collection as brash, perhaps Louboutin just wanted to have a bit of fun. His track record certainly suggests as much.

Some detractors also commented that it is perhaps a little vulgar to release such high-priced shoes when so many are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis.

However, the world of high-end fashion has never paid much heed to such worries. As the saying goes, the rich are always rich.

The famous red-soled Louboutin has always been about forgetting the stress of everyday life, and these Marvel shoes fit with this thinking perfectly. Many a woman saves for months to buy a pair of Louboutins that will make her feel like a princess when she wears them, making this collection no different. Except this time, she can perhaps save the world, too.

From Maleficent to the Muppets

This is not Louboutin's first tie-up with Marvel's parent company Disney, either. In 1997, he created shoes to accompany the release of the film 101 Dalmatians, for its star Glenn Close; and in 2012, he reworked Cinderella's glass slipper.

There have also been projects with the Star Wars franchise and the film Maleficent, as well as for the Muppets' Miss Piggy.

Updated: October 09, 2023, 1:11 PM