Christian Louboutin – towering heights of stiletto success
Often copied, never equalled
The child of a secret affair, Christian Louboutin always felt different. His creativity conjured up a fictional family history of Egyptian pharaohs and exotic characters and led to his fascination with world cultures.
Distracted in school by drawing endless designs, he was expelled three times, and left at the age of 12, running away from home and then spending time in Egypt and India.
The first spark and next steps
His fascination with shoes began in 1976, when he visited a museum and saw a sign that asked women not to wear stilettos for fear of damaging a precious wooden floor. He immediately wanted to create something that broke the rules, something dangerous and something that made women feel confident and empowered.
Following in the footsteps of stiletto pioneer and mentor, Roger Vivier, Louboutin helped to bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s. Having designed for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, he turned away from fashion to become a landscape gardener in the late 80s, only to return to his primary passion as he missed working with shoes so much.
Designing dozens of styles with towering heels, Christian Louboutin has always explained his ambition to be to “make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as [he] can”.
In his first year, he sold 200 pairs of shoes. However, his success sky-rocketed when, in the presence of fashion journalists, Louboutin’s very first customer, Princess Caroline of Monaco, complimented the store. He now sells hundreds of thousands of pairs every year.
The red sole
His trademark red sole came in 1993, two years after the opening of his first shoe salon in Paris.
Louboutin was having trouble getting his creations to match his gorgeous sketches. They just weren’t translating from page to product. Having tried different solutions, Louboutin grabbed his assistant’s red nail polish and painted the sole of the shoe. It instantly made the design pop, bringing it to life. His red-bottoms are now iconic, with every shoe design bearing the rouge sole.
Who doesn’t love Louboutins?! From Sex and the City to Breaking Bad, Louboutin shoes are scattered across our TV screens. Famous fans include Madonna, Eva Longoria, Heid Klum, Tina Turner… just about anyone with feet that grace the red carpet! American novelist Danielle Steel reportedly owns over 6,000 pairs, and personally, I wouldn’t turn down a pair of the red-soled wonders… UK size 4, if anyone’s offering…
Christian Louboutin’s famous ‘So Kate’ heels were created when he was fitting Kate Moss for a pair of shoes for a wedding. She owned numerous pairs of his iconic ‘Pigalle’ heels, so he was inspired to reshape the design, lengthening the point of the toe, closing in the heel a bit more and stretching out the heel pin so it was thinner and taller.
The new collection
The Fall Winter 2017 collection does not disappoint. Featuring green velour, bright pink patent and of course, his trademark spikes, Louboutin injects vitality into his designs. Adding a ruffle, pompom or dash of glitter to his iconic towering heels, there are touches of Mexico alongside glamour and flair.
A bridal touch
His creations were also seen at Bridal Fashion Week as custom sequinned shoes graced the runway with Naeem Khan’s 2018 bridal collection as well as Jenny Packham’s. As well as shoes, Christian Louboutin Nail Colour was also seen on Packham’s models.
Turning down licensing deals left, right and centre, Louboutin only wants his name associated with his own products. Now holding lines in men’s footwear, handbags, nail colour, lipstick and fragrance, Louboutin understands the value of the products he creates, whilst realising their whimsy.
“I think that I make very useless work,” he says, “and I’m very proud of it.” Adding, “It’s very important to design things that you don’t need.”
We totally agree, Mr Louboutin – you keep doing exactly what you’re doing.