It is only natural to start with what Sigmund Freud wrote in his paper on fetishism (5).
“When now I announce that the fetish is a substitute for the penis, I shall certainly create disapointment; so I hasten to add that it is not a substitue for any penis, but for a particular and quite special penis that had been extremely important in early childhood but had later been lost. … the fetish is a substitute for the woman’s (the mother’s) penis that the little boy once believed in and… does not want to give up. What happened, therefore, was that the boy refused to take cognizance of the fact of his having perceived that a woman does not possess a penis. No, that could not be true: for if a woman had been castrated, then his own possession of a penis was in danger… Yes, in his mind the woman has got a penis, in spite of everything; but this penis is no longer the same as it was before. Something else has taken its place, has been appointed its substitute, as it were, and now inherits the interest which was formerly directed to its predecessor… Furthermore, an aversion, which is never absent in any fetishist, to the real female genitals remains a stigma indelebile (a mark impossible to remove) of the repression that has taken place. We can now see what the fetish achieves and what it is that maintains it. It remains a token of triumph over the threat of castration and a protection against it. It also saves the fetishist from becoming a homosexual, by endowing women with the characteristic which makes them tolerable as sexual objects.”
Remarks on the Psycho-Analysis of a Case of Foot and Corset Fetishism
Karl Abraham (6) published this paper in 1910.
“The degree to which the foot replaced the penis in the patient’s mind was clearly seen in certain dreams of his, two of which I will briefly relate. In the one dream he was wearing slippers which were trodden down behind so that his heels were visible. This dream turned out to be an exhibitionistic dream. The heel was exposed to view as the sexual organs are in the ordinary exhibitionistic dream. The affect was the same as in typical exhibition dreams that are accompanied by anxiety. In the other dream he touched a woman with his foot and in this way dirtied her. … It is now clear why the patient took particular interest in the high heels of women’s shoes. The heel of the shoe corresponded to the heel of the foot – a part of the body which, in virtue of the displacement referred to, had taken on the significance of a male genital.”
Ray Blanchard (2) offers the following criterion to classify a person as fetishistic:
“As in Blanchard (1991), a patient was classiﬁed as fetishistic if he responded positively to the single questionnaire item, ‘‘Do you think that certain inanimate objects (velvet, silk, leather, rubber, shoes, female underwear, etc.) have a stronger sexual attraction for you than for most other people?’’
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), diagnostic criteria for Fetishism
In his 2009 paper (1) Martin Kafka proposes an enhanced set of DSM-V, the ﬁfth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), diagnostic criteria for Fetishism (302.81). The italics indicate the proposed enhancement:
A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges and behaviors involving either the use of non-living objects and/or a highly speciﬁc focus on non-genital body part(s).
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, and behaviors cause clinically signiﬁcant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The fetish objects are not limited to articles of clothing used in crossdressing (as in Transvestic Fetishism) or devices speciﬁcally designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., vibrator).
Robert J Stoller in his book “Sexual Excitement” (3) writes:
“Let us take fetishization as the key process in the creation of erotic excitement. We might begin by calling it dehumanization; the fetish stands for a human (not just, as is sometimes said, for a missing penis). A sexually exciting fetish, we know, may be an inanimate object, a living but not human object, a part of a human body (in rare cases even of one’s own), an attribute of a human (this is a bit less sure, since we cannot hold an attribute in hand), or even a whole human not perceived as himself or herself but rather as an abstraction, such as a representative of a group rather than a person in his or her ownright (“all women are bitches”; “all men are pigs”). The word ‘dehumanization’ does not signify that the human attributes are completely removed, but just that they are reduced, letting the fetish still remind its owner of the original human connection, now repressed. As a result, the same move (like a seesaw) that dehumanizes the human endows the fetish with a human quality.”
the sexual aberrations
Freud writes in his paper on the sexual aberrations (7): “The foot for instance, is an age-olf sexual symbol which occurs even in mythology; no doubt the part played by fur as a fetish owes its origin to an association with the hair of the mons Veneris.”
‘Fetish’ by David Lynch x Christian Louboutin
“…it is very natural to be naked with high heels (for a woman)….” Louboutin.
Born in the 12th Arrondisement, a working class district of Paris, Louboutin’s feminine upbringing with his mother and three sisters are cited as an inspiration for his work. A fervent interest in shoes and women’s feet, developed from the age of 12 in the 70s, at the Museum of African Art from a 50s poster of a woman’s high heel crossed out by a striking red line (20 years later he would again encounter this image at a friend’s house over dinner). It was a warning to prevent heels damaging the museums wooden floors, in an age of hippies, chunky heels and flats. From this point on he was hooked and after discovering the sensual belly of Parisian nightlife, clubs and music theatres, at the tender of age of 16, Louboutin decided to sell his own designed shoes to the dancers he encountered. (4)
Christian Louboutin says:
“David Lynch had asked me to draw shoes for his exhibition at the Cartier Foundation. He painted some of the shoes to show them in a cage. I wanted to ask him to photograph some of the shoes that I had designed in this for this particular project. David Lynch is one of the biggest movie maker alive. As his movies are extremely coded, I also wanted fetishist shoes. Those shoes would indeed follow those codes. Many only see shoe as a functionnal accessory to be able walk. However, some are made to run, others to swim… Some are made for sex. If there is an element of fetishism in a wardrobe, it is the female shoe, even without stilettos. It has appearance of an indian totem. It is an object of worship that lead to rituals. I had been thinking about shoe-sculptures, not made to be worn but to reveal what is the most beautiful: the curves of the feet. David Lynch gave me his agreement. He saw a sofa, roses, a lamp and a girl. He saw what I did not see. The image was already in his mind. The photographs were taken within two days in Paris. (8)
Louboutin says of the collaboration, “The models wore these unwearable shoes with natural grace. Their very white skin, very dark eyes and bright mouths melded with Lynch’s aesthetics. As is his habit, David Lynch made it into a décor populated with shadows.” (9)
(1) Martin Kafka, The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Fetishism
(2) Ray Blanchard, The DSM Diagnostic Criteria for Transvestic Fetishism
(3) Robert J Stoller, Sexual Excitement, Karnac Books, London, 1986
(4) Brian Clarkson, Sole Mates: ‘Fetish’ by David Lynch x Christian Louboutin
(5) Sigmund Freud, Fetishism, The Pelican Freud Library, Vlolume 7, London, 1977
(6) Karl Abraham, Selected papers on psychoanalysis, Karnac Books, London, 1988
(7) Sigmund Freud, The Sexual Aberrations, The Pelican Freud Library, Vlolume 7, London, 1977
(8) FETISH = David Lynch/Christian Louboutin, Art is alive
(9) Fetish by David Lynch and Christian Louboutin, cool hunting