2019 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion: Christian Louboutin

The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT honored iconic footwear designer Christian Louboutin with its 2019 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, at a luncheon at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. The luncheon benefited The Museum at FIT (MFIT), New York’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the art of fashion. As has become tradition, the award ceremony and luncheon herald the arrival of fall New York Fashion Week. NORDSTROM was a presenting sponsor of the luncheon, which was co-chaired by Melissa Mafrige-Mithoff and Amelia Ogunlesi.

Christian Louboutin

Christian Louboutin



Louboutin was chosen for his lifelong dedication to the art and craft of fashion by a distinguished advisory committee, chaired by Dr. Valerie Steele, director of MFIT, that includes Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s BazaarHamish Bowles, international editor-at-large of VogueKen Downing, chief creative officer of Triple Five Group; Linda Fargo, senior vice president of fashion and store presentation director at Bergdorf Goodman; Nicole Fischelis, executive consultant at Fashion*Art*Forecasting; Akiko Fukai, director emerita at Kyoto Costume Institute; Kamie Lightburn, on behalf of the Couture Council Board; Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT; Suzy Menkes, journalist and fashion critic at VogueCaroline Milbank, fashion historian and author; and Hal Rubenstein, style author and founder of the website The Happy Grownup.

“To be recognized by The Museum at FIT’s esteemed Couture Council is a great honor,” Louboutin said. “While my designs have roots in Paris, I feel very lucky to have access to some of the most specialized craftsmanship in the world; that has allowed me to push my creative boundaries and celebrate inclusivity and self-empowerment through cultural exchange.”

“Christian Louboutin is a brilliant designer whose shoes are made with exquisite craftsmanship,” said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT. “He is also a wonderful friend to FIT who has not only donated his shoes to the museum, where they have appeared in several exhibitions, but he has often — and with great enthusiasm — spoken with our students. FIT was proud to present him with an honorary degree at our 2014 commencement, at which our graduating students greeted him with joy.”

“Sigmund Freud famously asked: ‘What do women want?’” said Dr. Valerie Steele. “For many women, the answer would appear to be shoes, especially beautiful, high-heeled shoes, and specifically, Christian Louboutin’s famously seductive red-soled shoes. Because of his delightfully desirable and distinctive shoes, Christian Louboutin was chosen to receive the 2019 Couture Council Award.”

The 2019 Couture Council luncheon coincided with MFIT’s Paris, Capital of Fashion exhibition. The exhibition explores how and why Paris became the international capital of fashion, and features 23 pairs of shoes, including an exquisite made-to-order design by Christian Louboutin, and approximately 100 fashion ensembles and accessories, dating from the 18th century to the present.


In 1992, Christian Louboutin was working at his desk, contemplating an unsatisfactory prototype of a shoe while his assistant polished her nails. He grabbed her bottle of nail color and painted the whole sole a vivid and lacquered red. The Christian Louboutin signature red sole was born. This one gesture says so much about the designer and his house.

Today, Christian Louboutin is an independent luxury house, which allows the designer to remain spontaneous, instinctive, and free to create. He designs shoes, bags, and accessories for all genders, as well as a beauty range that includes makeup and fragrance. Worn by musicians and movie stars, royalty and athletes, the designs share a luxurious aesthetic of exoticism, Parisian chic, and unique craftsmanship.


The Couture Council luncheon began with cocktails on the David H. Koch Theater terrace. Guests then were ushered into the theater’s promenade for a three-course luncheon, catered by Olivier Cheng. Bronson van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck designed the flowers.

Past recipients of the Couture Council Award are Narciso Rodriguez (2018), Thom Browne (2017), Albert Kriemler of Akris (2016), Manolo Blahnik (2015), Carolina Herrera (2014), FIT alumnus Michael Kors (2013), Oscar de la Renta (2012), Valentino (2011), Karl Lagerfeld (2010), Dries Van Noten (2009), Isabel Toledo (2008), Alber Elbaz (2007), and FIT alumnus Ralph Rucci (2006). In 2008, Giorgio Armani received a special award for Global Fashion Leadership.