Christian Louboutin has stamped his trademark red sole all over the Cuban National delegation participating in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Together with sports e-tailer SportyHenri.com (founded by former French professional handball player Henri Tai), Louboutin dresses over a 100 of Cuba’s best athletes.
From left: Lidianny Echevarria Benitez, Henri Tai, Christian Louboutin and Javier Cortina Lacerra
While it is not unusual for national athletes to be outfitted by renowned fashion designers for the Olympics, they have mostly been by designers or brands native to the country (both Christian Louboutin and Henri Tai are of French descent). The collaboration was sparked when Louboutin travelled to Cuba in support of his good friend’s shoot for his newly launched SportyHenri.com. While capturing the Cuban athletes in training, they were drawn to their dedication and decided to support the small nation in the upcoming Summer Olympics.
“It´s that elegance and fluidity of movement of someone who is so in control of their body that fascinates me. At the Olympics, it feels like these athletes put on performance gear and simultaneously turn into these superheroes that defy gravity, that defy time, that defy all rules of physics. We designed the celebratory outfit for the moment they turn back into humans, still in that glory moment, still in their light but heading back to the real world. We really want them to continue feeling amazing in their skin while looking astonishing,” explained Christian Louboutin.
Much visual cues were taken from Cuban heritage. But the athletes themselves, both current and former, served as inspirations and played an active part in shaping the collection. It was essential in order to provide a deeper sense of national pride as well as to understand the needs of the Olympic athletes.
The result is a focused ensemble of distinctly Cuban elements that’s tastefully done. The tailored Guayabera-inspired jackets come in red for men and beige for women with patches of the Cuban flag and SportyHenri.com visible on the front. A five-pointed star emblazons the back of each jacket too.
Dovelis Elena Torres Herrero and Manuel Alejandro Gonzales Conde
Of course, with Christian Louboutin as part of the project, these are some of the finest kicks you’ll see during the opening and closing ceremonies. Male athletes sport either the high-top trainer or loafer Naza Star in calf leather while female athletes bring a touch of glamour with kitten heel sandals.
Pole vaulter Yankier Lara Cruz
Literally the biggest challenge Louboutin faced during this project? Fitting wrestler Mijaían López Núñez with a pair of sized 51.5 shoes; a size he’s never done before.
Watch the behind-the-scenes video below and see the clothing in action. Because unfortunately, the collection will not be reproduced for commercial sale.