Monday Funday: Christian Louboutin’s Biggest Fan, More Imeldific Than Imelda Marcos…WHO Is She?

And our happy Monday Fundays return, Stiletto-istas – welcome back!
A quick recap of our last edition: if you recall, we had asked you to guess which young, successful country/pop music sweetheart romancing a Kennedy scion this summer had just bought a divine beach house next to his family compound in Hyannisport, Cape Cod, Massachusetts? Several of you guessed it correctly…yup, it’s Taylor Swift! (to read that previous Monday Funday edition, click here)

Aaaaaw! Isn’t young love just sweet & these 2 munchkins simply adorbs? Summer lovin’ on Cape Cod…Taylor Swift puckers up for a kiss with boyfriend Conor Kennedy, son of RFK Jr., and grandson of RFK and JFK.

Moving on to today’s Monday Funday…let’s begin with a little Bamboo Stiletto “origins story”, as they say in film industry lingo.

It was the summer of 1999. I had just moved from Hong Kong to New York City where that fall, I was due to attend graduate classes in business at Fordham University’s Manhattan campus in Lincoln Centre.

I was waiting for the number 1 train heading downtown at the subway station nearest my Upper West Side apartment. Next to me, also waiting for the train, was a lone, slim, well-dressed woman, blonde hair scooped neatly into a ponytail. For the life of me, I can’t remember now what she was wearing but what vividly transfixed me were her shoes. They were, by far, the most beautiful shoes I had ever seen in my life. In a gorgeous teal colour, ideal for summer. Showcasing her perfectly pedicured toes most adorably.

At this stage in my life, my love affair with shoes had already begun in earnest. Remember, I had lived in Hong Kong in the 1990s. Manolo Blahnik already had a popular shop in Hong Kong (back then, hordes of Japanese tourists could be seen queueing outside the shop; these days, the queueing hordes are all from mainland China). Blahnik and Jimmy Choo were already available at Lane Crawford. But this woman’s shoes…I did not recognize.

For a few seconds, I argued with myself. Should I act like a tourist in New York and simply ask a complete stranger, who did her shoes? Or, should I simply suffer in silent admiration? In the end, I couldn’t stand it…inquiring minds had to know! Before the train came roaring in, I mustered my thick-skinned courage, smiled at the unknown lady, paid my compliments regarding her shoes and asked, whose and what were they?

She smiled at the compliment, did not seem surprised (and, in fact, seemed to take it for granted that her beautiful shoes were certainly worthy of a stranger’s admiration) and then, she said: ” They’re by Christian Louboutin.”

It  was the first time I had ever heard of Christian Louboutin. It was also, indeed, a case of lust at first sight.

Alas, it was a case of wanting what I couldn’t have. At least not while I was in grad school and didn’t have a bean in the world. It wasn’t until years later, while in the Beijing rat race, during a Lane Crawford warehouse sale, that I was able to buy my first ever pair of Louboutins.

Since then, I’ve only managed to buy two more pairs – and only when massively discounted by Lane Crawford at its Hong Kong and Beijing stores.  Never bought them at full price; I mean, I AM a self-confessed shoe whore, but just CANNOT justify that kind of money. Here’s a look at The Bamboo Stiletto’s Louboutin stilettos – to date:

My Louboutin stilettos…one of these babies is already 8 years old, my first ever pair! Guess which one? Haha! Easy-peasy. Scuffed from use, you can hardly see the logo anymore.

Of course, by now, Louboutins have become so famous that Jennifer Lopez has sung about them;  they’re mentioned by rappers alongside other bling accoutrements as Cristal champagne and G6 private jets. Even “Sex & the City” character, Carrie Bradshaw, and her well-known Manolo Blahnik fetish, ended up choosing Louboutins for her wedding to Mr. Big. Over the years, my infatuation with Louboutin began to lose its lustre.

I was, however, reminded of my past love affair when the Wall Street Journal magazine recently ran a feature on the designer himself and his amazing shoe archive, housed in one of his homes. Mr. Louboutin has five residences: in the United States (Los Angeles, California), in Egypt and Portugal, an apartment in Paris and a lovely 13th-century chateau in the French countryside region of Vendee. It is here, in a restored oak barn, that Mr. Louboutin keeps an archive of more than 8,000 pairs of shoes, culled from his 20 years in the industry. He has room for 14,000 and is presently looking to hire a curator to manage the archive.

Uh, DING DONG! Monsieur Louboutin, where do I sign up to apply??? Who do we have to kill to get that job? Hahahaaa! Stiletto-istas, here’s a glimpse of Mr. Louboutin’s French country home (all images courtesy of the Wall Street Journal magazine’s September issue):

The 13th century Chateau de Champgillon in the Vendee region
The chateau’s oak barn, which was restored to house the shoe archive
Stiletto-istas, this is it! Our Holy Grail…our place of worship. Christian Louboutin’s shoe archive.
Can you imagine working as the curator for his archive and getting paid in shoes – like this little sexy thang?
The designer himself, Monsieur Louboutin, at home. Doing some shoe organizing. Celebrities…they’re just like us!

Anyhooz – we were fascinated to learn that Mr. Louboutin’s shoes have fans whose obsessions are of such magnitude that they can start their own Louboutin archive. Imelda Marcos supposedly had 3,ooo pairs of shoes?…phooey shoemey, girlfriend has NOTHING on these Louboutin shoe-crazed women!

One fan, in particular, is so fanatical that she currently owns more than 6,000 pairs of Louboutins. She is known to walk into a Louboutin shop in Paris or New York and buy between 60 to 80 pairs…right on the spot! Can you imagine the fabulousity??? Good thing this glamorous Louboutin fan is loaded in her own right and can afford her indulgences; known as “The Queen of Romance” for being one of the world’s bestselling romance novelists, she rakes in millions each year on royalties alone.

Who can be more Imeldific than Imelda Marcos? WHO is she? C’mon and ‘fess up, Stiletto-istas, you may have even read one of her books. It’s Monday Funday y’all, give me your Best Guess  in the Comments below and have a beautiful week ahead!

Shoe & The City: If Your City Was a Shoe, What Would It Be?

Have you read one of these articles lately which are all about how your shoes are supposed to reveal your personalilty type? Well, how about, what your shoes reveal about your city? Put it another way…if your city was a shoe, what kind of shoe would it be?

I’ve had the privilege of living in three of China‘s biggest, fastest-developing and most fascinating cities: Beijing (7 years), Shanghai (2 years) and Guangzhou (1 month & counting…). When I think about these 3 cities in terms of shoes, here’s what I came up with:

Converse sneaks (summer) / Uggs snow boots (winter)

summer kicks for the Beijing hipster…artsy, intellectual, with just the right touch of ” I’m so cool I don’t care about how I look” grunge attitude
with sub-frozen winter temps averaging minus 20C, comfort & warmth reign over style for the resident Beijinger’s toes

Christian Louboutin stiletto peep-toes (summer) /
Jimmy Choo patent leather stiletto knee-high boots (winter)

seductive, blatantly sexy, oh-so-expensive & not afraid to show it, with just the right amount of toe cleavage, the Shanghai stylista endures suffering as long as she’s tres chic!
for striding through snow & ice…and a fashion runway (just in case). in Shanghai, style always triumphs!

Ok, I must admit I was in a bit of a quandary about this…this city is so hot & humid, deceptively sunny & yet so mercurial, with sudden massive downpours of rain. With the amount of rainfall, enough to ruin your shoes after two outings, at first I thought Guangzhou would be a pair of  sturdy Hunter Wellies (Wellington), as is:

in Guangzhou, blame it on the rain!

But then last Sunday, as we were caught in yet another unpredictable downpour and I was mourning my soaked Onitsuka Tigers (they were espadrille-style…darn), a girlfriend glanced at my feet and said, “You really should get a pair of Crocs.”

Now don’t get me wrong and I hope I don’t offend anyone out there but I just think Crocs are the fugliest shoes on the planet and only babies, toddlers, teens and grown-up men doing manly things like going to the hardware store, look remotely good in them. Grown-up women, news alert! Crocs don’t make you look good. At all.

Then I glanced at her feet…voila!…she had on a pair of Crocs and mais oui, this is what they looked like (my friend is, of course, French):

casual, unpretentious & low-key, perfect for sweltering sun or sudden torrential downpours, to keep one’s tippy toes happy in Guangzhou

Trust the French to find something stylish yet practical to my footwear conundrum in Guangzhou. So, here you go, Guangzhou: Crocs crocband flats.

Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t give my old hometown in the Philippines – Cebu – a whirl with this game. So here’s what I came up with and in this case, my heart is  really where the shoe fits….right at home.

Castaner wedge espadrilles

for perenially sunny, blue-sky days, the Cebuana keeps it easy & casual-chic, ever-ready for kicking off & going barefoot on the beach or instead, slipping on a pair of…

Also, for Cebu:
Havaiianas flip flops

a Cebuana’s unofficial uniform

A shout-out to the Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Cebu peeps out there, do you agree with my shoe choices above?  Let’s make this fun, everyone!!! In the Comments below, tell me about where you live and what shoe would your city be?