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Seeing Red

Christian Louboutin's exquisite and expensive footwear has spawned a legion of knockoffs, in some cases right down to the signature red soles.  Oh...Deer! is particularly dedicated to copying the master's styles, like the Bruges pump below.

Christian Louboutin Bruges pump

Oh Deer rounded toe wood platform

From expertly rendered classic shapes to complex and original flights of fancy, none of M. Louboutin's styles is likely to qualify for protection under U.S. law.  The red soles, however, are a most effective form of trade dress, immediately signifying to those in the know -- and now to pretty much everyone remotely attuned to celebrity culture or to fashion -- the pumps' provenance.  Even better from a strategic perspective, the tantalizing flash of red is often visibile in photographs as well as up close and in person.  To a lawyer, copying the red soles is a bit like flashing a red cape in front of a bull -- but the designer has largely refrained from charging his imitators, at least publicly.

According to an article in the British magazine Grazia, the Louboutin look has led not only to mere imitation but also to creative inspiration in the form of the "Louboutin manicure."  Zoe Pocock, of London's Charles Worthington salon, will paint your fingernails in the color of your choice, with a familiar shade of red on the underside.  At £36, it's a far less expensive indulgence than a new pair of Loubies -- or, for the woman who has everything, an opportunity to take matching the shoes with the handbag to a whole new level. 

And as long as the salon goes easy on use of the Louboutin name in its advertising, it's a look that even an intellectual property lawyer can love.

Thanks to Fifitrix for posting the photo on Salon Geek!