As the court battle between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent continues over whether or not Saint Laurent is violating Louboutin's trademark for its famed red-soled shoes, we'd like to direct all parties to the portrait of Louis XIV below—and to an event that happened 350 years ago.
Working your way down this picture—past Louis' magnificently parted hair and his jewel-encrusted sword (did he ever actually use it?)—you'll arrive at his feet, and his red-hued heels. Look familiar?
According to one account, it was Louis' trend-setting brother, Philippe, who inspired the Sun King's footwear. One day in 1662, Philippe and his entourage arrived in Paris in light-colored outfits and disguises, in an attempt to anonymously explore the city. They set about visiting various taverns and locales, including the Marché des Innocents in central Paris. Because of the numerous abattoirs (yes, we mean slaughterhouses) located in the market, Philippe and his band of merrymakers had to traverse over several blood-soaked streets. By the time he and his party reappeared at Versailles to see Louis, Philippe's high heels were dyed blood red.
Louis and his court took notice of Philippe's distinctive footwear, and very soon thereafter red heels were de rigueur.