Newton, Riviera At Villa Sauber In Monaco

Shoe, Walter Steiger, Monte-Carlo, 1983

Earlier this month I visited “Newton, Riviera” at Villa Sauber (part of the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco) in Monaco.

I have been loving photography since I was seven-year-old, when I started using a disposable Kodak during school trips, and this passion has grown with me over the years; “Newton, Riviera” was one of the best exhibitions about photography I have ever attended.

The German-born photographer already had ties with the French Riviera and the area around Bordighera, Italy, when he first arrived in Monaco in 1981. He was also a regular at the annual Cannes Film Festival and would spend his summers in Ramatuelle with his wife June.

Moving to Monaco at the age of 61, he was established as one of the greatest fashion photographers of his generation; the period from 1981 until his death in 2004 is one of the most interesting and productive of his career.

Monaco was the ideal setting for Newton’s fashion photographs. The city’s construction sites have often served as backdrop for fashion campaigns and this also gave Newton the chance to take numerous portraits of iconic people like David Bowie, Paloma Picasso and Michael Cimino; some of them were Monaco residents while others were just visiting the city.

He also worked on a series of photographs with stars of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the princely family, especially Princess Caroline, a close friend of his.

In Monaco, Newton was fascinated by the elegant way of life and immersed himself in a world of appearances and glamour in which he was both an actor and a privileged witness.

Newton, Riviera at Villa Sauber (NMNM) in Monaco
Princess Stephanie and Princess Caroline photographed by Helmut Newton in Monaco

Christian Louboutin: L’Exhibition[niste] – Chapitre II In Monaco

Christian Louboutin: L’Exhibition[niste] – Chapitre II

Two weeks ago I attended “Christian Louboutin: L’exhibition[niste] – Chapitre II in Monaco. This was the second chapter of Louboutin’s first exhibition held in 2020 at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris; the Monaco edition offered a new perspective with this second exhibition named “Chapter II”.

This was probably Grimaldi Forum’s biggest event of the summer, dedicated to the universe and the creations of Christian Louboutin, a legendary shoe designer and one of the most prominent figures in the world of fashion.

The set design stretched for 2000 m2 of the Espace Ravel in the Grimaldi Forum building and included additional items linked to the designer’s Monegasque inspirations and new collaborations. The retrospective was conceived as “a joyous odyssey spanning three decades of Louboutin’s creativity, tracing his curiosity towards culture and art in all its forms”, celebrating art through the creator’s eyes.

The shoes were the retrospective’s main protagonists, with a selection of exceptional creations including some unique models.

Christian Louboutin started his apprenticeship at the end of the 80s with Folies Bergère, a Parisian music-hall, for which he realized the costumes (he once said in an interview: “I’ve always loved anything having to do with theater – theatricality and movement, the movement of theatricality.”), then he worked for a while with Charles Jourdan and Roger Vivier, a famous Parisian shoe designer, who was one of his biggest inspirations at the beginning of his career.

Louboutin founded his own brand and opened his Paris shop in 1990. His first line with the iconic red sole came out in 1992, giving his shoes a distinctive look; by inventing the red sole, he found his signature, which is known and recognized across the world to this day.

Entrance of Christian Louboutin’s exhibition at Grimaldi Forum, Monaco

The first room of the Monaco retrospective was decorated with a set of eight stained-glass windows especially designed by Christian Louboutin and displayed the first shoes he ever designed. Most of those he made himself on a budget in his tiny apartment – the designs show the influence of Roger Vivier on Louboutin’s first shoe models.

This room reconstructed the beginning of his career, with the help of magazine covers, initial sketches and personal photographs, which recapture the buzz of the 80s and 90s, when fashion was still something fun and light-hearted, less intertwined with the concept of luxury. The room displayed some of his early creations like the Pluminette (Spring/Summer 1995, inspired by birds), Love (Louboutin’s “Première Collection”, Fall/Winter 1991), Aqua Girl (Fall/Winter 1998) and Pensée(Fall/Winter 1993, produced in a variety of different colors).

Princess Caroline of Monaco and Madonna were among Louboutin’s first clients at his Parisian boutique in Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Of his legendary career, the designer says: “It’s really a lucky star that has brought me to this point, more than ambition, dreams, or imagination. I let myself be guided by things.”

Some of Louboutin’s first shoe models