Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Diane von Furstenberg Honor Christian Louboutin "Magic"
The designer behind the iconic red soles was feted at this year’s Couture Council Luncheon benefit, which raised more than $1 million for the Museum at FIT.
“Last year I happened to get married — I tried to keep it a secret, though that didn’t work out very well,” Priyanka Chopra Jonas quipped to the standing-room-only assembly of guests at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday afternoon.
Such a jest would be lost on the rare audience member who might not be aware of her high-wattage nuptials to Nick Jonas last December, but Chopra Jonas — wearing a one-shoulder fringed dress by Monse, paired with Louboutin’s Clare sling-back pump — was quick to add that one ingredient arrived utterly devoid of stress. “For our Indian wedding, I wore a pair of custom Christian Louboutin shoes, made in collaboration with [dress designer] Sabyasachi, and when I put my feet into his shoes at that most important moment of my life, I felt at ease, I took a breath, and I felt the most beautiful I’ve ever felt,” she recalled. “That is the magic of his shoes.”
Christian Louboutin’s alluring heels have been worn by a veritable bounty of the world’s most stylish women — “Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker and, um, me,” Chopra Jonas deadpanned — so does an endorsement get any better? At Wednesday’s annual Couture Council Luncheon, a Museum of FIT fundraiser that traditionally signals the start of New York Fashion Week in September, the audience apparently agreed, as red soles ruled the room, from Louboutin’s So Kate pump in neon pink to his Very Prive peep-toe pump in leopard and his Triniboot Strass ankle boot in black velour.
And yet, after thanking Chopra Jonas, the famed shoe designer kicked off his acceptance speech at the Couture Council Luncheon in a manner that balanced his innate shyness with a light and breezy fashion that he chalked up to his native sensibilities. “The French just don’t do speeches — we barely say thank you,” he joked. “But there is a phrase … ‘Impossible is not a French word,’ so I’m going to try.”
The designer then spoke of his memories of visiting New York since he was in his 20s and of discovering the rich resources available at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and he decided that perhaps the best approach to accepting the award was to think of it as a wedding, the bride being FIT and all its enticements, while the groom was his passion for design. “And may the honeymoon be long, hot and furious,” he concluded.
Louboutin titillated the audience — which included Martha Stewart, Veronica Webb and Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey — over such an idea, but he wasn’t done yet. After toasting the “marriage” of Louboutin and FIT, one thank you remained, and this one wasn’t so easy. “She’s my godmother, my sister, my travel companion, my oracle,” he said, his voice filling with emotion. “She opened her arms to me almost 30 years ago. I sold my first collection of shoes in America from the table of her dining room. I’m not sure I can ever truly thank my incredible friend, Diane von Furstenberg.”
It was a touching moment that inspired tears in several audience members; von Furstenberg, meanwhile, already had expressed her thoughts on the red carpet. “He’s my best friend,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “Every honor that comes his way, he deserves it.”
Nordstrom, which is opening its first New York City location on Oct. 24 on 57th Street near Columbus Circle, was the primary sponsor of the event, which raised more than $1 million for the Museum at FIT. On Friday the museum opens its latest exhibit, “Paris, Capital of Fashion,” curated by museum director Dr. Valerie Steele, who notes that Louboutin was the right choice as the year’s honoree for reasons that extended well beyond his birthplace.
“We think shoes are a really important part of fashion, and he’s become synonymous with seductive, high-fashion shoes that are truly works of art,” Steele told THR. “Also, accessories are a crucial part of fashion worthy of celebrating, and I think that’s especially true in Paris. Even before [Charles Frederick Worth] was putting his name in clothes, milliners in Paris were already being recognized, and that was likewise true of shoes and handbags and fans and parasols. All of these components contributed to the makeup of Paris fashion.”
On view through Jan. 4, “Paris, Capital of Fashion” showcases garments and accessories ranging from an 18th-century robe a la francaise to a 1927 Chanel crimson evening cape and a corset-detailed top hat Stephen Jones crafted for Christian Dior’s fall 2000 collection. Webb, who’s been donating pieces from her own archives to the museum for the past 15 years, marveled at the availability of such treasures to FIT students — and, of course, she did so while wearing crystal-embellished flats by Louboutin.
“I call them my magic slippers,” Webb said. “One of the last times I wore them was at an [American Ballet Theatre] opening, and [the late photographer] Bill Cunningham photographed me and said, ‘Love your shoes, kid; the diamonds are getting really big.’ So no matter what, Louboutins cast a spell on people.”