Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Jess, over here, nailed it. Dressed in an Armani Privé gown, Christian Louboutin shoes and jewelry by Harry Winston, this Jessica Rabbit look-a-like is everything Hollywood glamour is about– grace and poise with flair. Now, if this was just a dress contest, it would probably land her on the borrow list but– my oh my– is that style execution or what, my friends?!
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Christian Louboutin goes beyond being footwear royalty. The iconic designer who consistently pushes the envelope with his imaginative designs recently celebrated his twentieth anniversary. The accoutrements of such an accomplishment? A glossy coffee-table art book cataloging his many creations and glamourous fêtes at both Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys in NYC. Now he’s rolled out a nationwide partnership with Neiman Marcus whereby one devoted Louboutin fan has a chance to win her own pair of red-soled wonders.
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Monsieur Louboutin is losing his battle against French-power-house Yves Saint Laurent over a pair of red-soled Palais pumps. You may recall when we (and everyone in the fashion industry) mentioned this petty scandal a few weeks back. While we have, to date, admired Christian for his insistence, there are few in the community, or otherwise, who believed he had much of a case, or, frankly, much of a reason to pursue one.
To begin with, his is a fairly new brand. Yes, his soles are, for most women, a distinct mark of his brand, but that’s hardly cause for excluding other, much more established, houses from using what is, after all, a primary color.
The latest blow to his cause is a ruling from Manhattan Federal Judge Victor Marrero, whose ruling stated, “Because in the fashion industry color serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition, the court finds that Louboutin is unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection, even if it has gained enough public recognition in the market to have acquired secondary meaning,” Judge Victor Marrero wrote in his opinion. This comes after Louboutin filed an injunction against Yves Saint Laurent to prevent the distribution of the Palais pump in question as the trial continues in France.
Harvey Lewin, an attorney for Camp Christian, said, “We think the judge missed it… The court essentially indicated that it does not believe that a single color can be a trademark in the fashion industry. We’re disheartened.”
Missed what, exactly, Mr. Lewin? That what was originally a flight of designer fancy and later became his sole brand identity (pun intended) is hardly able to be defended in an industry where colors are not the right of any given designer, but merely one tool in a designer’s box? Can you imagine the uproar if someone, anyone, attempted to trademark black? Or even, as we saw last season, the awful uprising of Salmon?
There is now a motion to cancel Louboutin’s earlier-granted trademark on the red sole, and representatives for both Monsieur Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent will appear later this month to provide arguments.
I’m willing to wager the motion will be upheld. Either way, the entire debate has overshadowed the real point: perhaps it’s time for Monsieur Louboutin to get back to designing shoes which stand out from his competitors in ways other than the color of their sole.
No more resting on your red-lacquered laurels, my friend.
Like love at first sight, when you see it, you know it. Heck, even your unfashionable, khaki wearing, straight boyfriend who annoyingly wears athletic socks with loafers (God love him) knows it. They’re as identifiable as the crisscrossing double C’s of Chanel or the golden arches of McDonald’s. I’m talking about associating lacquered red high heel soles with French shoe guru Christian Louboutin. And I’m talking candy apple red. Not orange red or pink-red. Red-red.
It is as Christian Louboutin’s lawyer, Harvey Lewin, bluntly told WWD last week, “Unless you’ve been living in a cave,” you most definitely associate that red-red sole with Louboutin. It’s as iconic a brandmark as any logo could ever hope to be.
And that’s precisely the issue Monsieur Louboutin contends in his recent suit against another established French fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent. With specific respect to a pair of sky-high, candy-apple-red suede ‘Palais 105’ platform pumps with leather soles. The issue? The soles match the suede, my friends. Monsieur Louboutin wasn’t pleased about about YSL squatting on his corner of the color wheel.
YSL responded to the claim by stating it unfair for a brand, any brand, to monopolize a color.
Fair enough. But it seems beneath Yves Saint Laurent–the house of Le Smoking legend, and the savoire faire to turn safari fatigue into safari-chic–to pull such a stunt. Surely, the designers knew such an accusation would ensue. More to the point: why would YSL send to market a design that essentially, if inadvertently, advertises a completely different brand, when it can simply develop it’s own new signature sole color?
I don’t know the answer, frankly, but I would like to officially stake my own monopoly on fuchsia. One, I look fantastic in this shade of pink, and two, 95-percent of my wardrobe is already this shade, for the aforementioned reason. This probably doesn’t work for all of you lovely readers. I’m sorry I’m not sorry about that.
A little advice to the lot of you, and, apparently to YSL: get your own signature color.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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