Christian Louboutin has been all about empowering women since day one. His m.o is to make women feel sexy and confident with his ubiquitous red-soled stilettos that have served to sartorially emancipate women since their debut in 1992. In her catchy hit Bodak Yellow, Cardi B even chants “these expensive, these are red bottoms, these are bloody shoes”. His new collection of bags, inspired by a recent holiday in Manila, Philippines is no different. For the luxury accessories brand’s latest range of handbags, Monsieur Louboutin joined forces with a collective of exceptional female artisans from the Philippines employed by the Gender Responsive Economic Action for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) initiative to dream up a lineup of colorful designs aptly entitled Manilacaba.
“I went once to the Philippines for holidays and it had been a big aesthetic shock for me. I got amazed by all the colors and the materials, by the generosity of people living here and by the fact Philippines is built on diversity,” explains Monsieur Louboutin over email to Vogue.me. The range incorporates traditional Filipino design elements, such as bright colors and different textiles. “All those elements stayed in my head when it came to designing Manilacaba. I also have to say I’ve been very impressed and inspired by the craftsmanship they developed around the shells and the mother of pearl.”
In fact, the renowned designer found the craftsmanship so intriguing, that he decided to enlist different tribes across different Filipino islands to handcraft the fabrics used for the bags. Meanwhile, embroideries are handmade in India before the bags are sent off to the brand’s Italian factories where they are then assembled. “It’s very important for me to select the best savoir-faire for each technique wherever it is over the world,” notes Louboutin.
Working with the female artisans may have been a challenge in the beginning, but the French designer admits that they rapidly found a way to work together with their different skills and knowledge. “It gave the women a new vision of their work, introducing a whole new world of creative possibilities for their business.”
While the collection features the signature Christian Louboutin elements— a spiked stud here and there— it manages to remain true to the Filipino culture. The Manilacaba tote, which is available in blue denim and black satin, references Manila’s jeepneys, the flamboyant trucks abandoned by American soldiers after World War II. Meanwhile, the Swarovski crystal-encrusted Pioutin Aremistrap purse draws inspiration from the archipelagos.
The Manilacaba is the third edition of the brand’s Caba range, following the Africaba and Mexicaba bags, which were inspired by the designer’s travels to Africa and Central America respectively. As for what destination-themed collection we can expect next: “I’ll fly in the upcoming days to New York and California. Then it will lead me to Australia for my first time,” says Louboutin. A Melbournecaba, perhaps? Only time will tell.
10 percent of the profit of every Manilacaba bag sold will be donated to the GREAT Women initiative. The collection is available at Christian Louboutin stores across the Middle East, and retails from AED/SAR 5,990.