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French stiletto king takes red soles to dance at Crazy Horse

Mar 1, 2012

PARIS - Christian Louboutin, the French designer whose red soles and teetering high heels make female fashionistas swoon, has taken his shoes to dance at the Crazy Horse, the Paris cabaret that insists its strip show is art.

He has helped choreograph four routines in the upmarket club's new show which include a penitent naked nun number, a lesbian romp and an erotic dance to music composed by film director David Lynch.

Asked by AFP if the show was more an exercise in marketing his expensive products than an artistic creation, Louboutin replied that he was merely "returning to my roots" as he had started his working life in cabaret.

He said it was the sight of dancers he regarded as "exotic birds" that inspired him to start designing the footwear with 12-centimetre heels and red soles that are now worn by the stars and sell for hundreds of euros (dollars).

The Crazy Horse, which has seen stars like Madonna, U2 and Gerard Depardieu sip champagne in its red velvet seats as they watched women undress, previously invited big names like Dita Von Teese, the global superstar of strip, and "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson for guest performances.

It is billing Louboutin as its first "guest creator".

On Wednesday he gave media a preview of the numbers that will feature in the show -- titled "Feu" (Fire) -- that runs from next Monday until May 31 and which, according to the designer, "concentrates on the lower part of the body".

"All the sentiments can be expressed in the language of the legs, the thighs and the buttocks," he explained in a press note.

In one number, the audience is faced with the rear ends of seven women who lie on stools and shake their stilettoed feet in the air without ever showing their upper bodies.

Another, titled "La Penitente", features a woman dressed in a monk's habit who plays with a large black skull before, predictably, removing the cloak and revealing a body wearing little but the trademark Crazy Horse G-string.

"It's a tableau about duality and the acceptance of sexuality. The Crazy Horse was already subversive and didn't need me for that," said Louboutin, adding that the number was inspired by a painting by 17th-century Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran.

Punters will have to pay 85 euros for the cheapest ticket to the show, which will also get them a half bottle of champagne.

Many Louboutin fans are expected to turn up as much to see his coveted shoes as to ogle the near-naked dancers.

His glam footwear was featured on the consumer-worshipping television series "Sex and the City" and he sells about 240,000 pairs each year in the United States alone.

Louboutin is currently in a legal tussle with Yves Saint-Laurent fashion house in which he claims that red soles are a trademark for his shoes and should not be used by competitors like YSL.

A New York judge hearing that case last August summed up the appeal of Louboutin's shoes.

"When Hollywood starlets cross red carpets and high fashion models strut runways and heads turn and eyes drop to the celebrities' feet, lacquered red outsoles on high-heeled, black shoes flaunt a glamorous statement that pops out at once," said judge Victor Marrero.

The Crazy Horse was opened in 1951 by Alain Bernardin and he always insisted the dancers be indistinguishable on stage in height, breast size and body shape.

Bernardin shot himself dead in his backstage office in 1994 but the rule on same-size dancers holds today in the club, which is still owned by his family and which now has an offshoot in Las Vegas.

The Crazy Horse prides itself on being the most sophisticated of the Parisian topless cabarets, and boasts that it is "avant garde" and intimate compared to the large-scale adult revues at the Moulin Rouge or the Lido.

It insists its shows present a celebration of female beauty and are not tacky titillation dressed up as art for a mostly male audience.

"We are both (Crazy Horse and Louboutin) at the service of women," Andree Deissenberg, the cabaret's manager, told reporters Wednesday.

For more information on the show click here

by Rory Mulholland

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