Basketball legend Michael Jordan can finally add high fashion muse to his resume, after Christian Louboutin chose Florence's Pitti Uomo 92 to launch his Aurelien men's sneaker which he says was inspired by the two-metre tall athlete.
The shoe is a fusion of high top delight that nods to all things 90s with a modern low sneaker silhouette.
The French footwear designer, who has been making shoes since 1992, says it takes just as long to make the men's sneaker at his Florence factories as it does to perfect a woman's stiletto – with equal artistry and focus required in the process.
Combining luxury and street
And where an average sneaker requires around 30 pieces to construct a shoe, a Louboutin pair requires a sturdy 80 plus to complete the puzzle. The new shoe design comes with a unique cup sole construction, which helps cradle the foot with a wider base that delivers comfort and style.
Louboutin brought his own magical touch to the traditional sneaker composition– it features hand cut leather pieces and applied rubber embossed with an ultra high resolution scan of crocodile skin for an exotic effect.
There's a red lined neoprene sock inside while the shoe is available in monochromatic black and white to bold colours like red, blue and orange.
"I always start my designs with a drawing and it goes from there," says Louboutin of the evolution of the Aurelien.
"It has a real 90s feel but it's not nostalgic for the past," he says. "I didn't want to do a 90s sneaker revisited. This is about the future of men's footwear and staying on the side of your imagination."
The right fit
Let it be known Louboutin isn't in the footwear design business to churn out technical high performance shoes though, but his debut at Pitti is a sign that the designer feels the reputed event is where his audience exists.
"Joining Pitti this year was a good thing for me to do," says Christian Louboutin reclining at the JK Florence Hotel in the esteemed Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
"Florence is a very chilled out place and very close to the sneaker culture which is why I knew this was the perfect launching place for the Aurelien," he says.
Two expressions of sneakers
To mark the occasion, the brand hosted a Bike Polo tournament in the famous Piazza featuring teams from Europe who competed for the championship title wearing the new sneaker.
"My relationship with sneakers is that I don't want them to be technical," says Louboutin.
"I don't make biking shoes or high performance sneakers. This is an art and I avoid technique. I am about design and if you wear sneakers to the gym, they should stay there. You should also have a pair for leisure. They are two very distinctive expressions in sneaker life and don't cross paths. My sneakers don't belong in the gym," he adds.
Last night an intimate dinner for 60 guests was hosted by London born, Italian based, filmmaker Ginevra Elkmann – a close friend of the designer and the granddaughter of Gianni Agnelli who founded the Fiat company.
Set in the opulent Florentine surroundings of the Corsini Gardens, it was the perfect place to celebrate Louboutin's renaissance like entry into the world of Pitti. What's more, his participation in the year's schedule is proof many designers are choosing Pitti over Milan Fashion Week to spread their sartorial message these days.
Guests included VIPs, fashion industry buyers and executives, international media and Bike Polo players. Three lucky Aussies to score an invitation included Australian model Jarrod Scott (in town for Peroni event who struggled to find a car park for his Ferrari out front) and emerging Chinese born and Australian based blogger Kurt Ju who runs Bloggers Boyfriend.
What do you think of Louboutin's latest men's sneaker? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.