It’s been over 20 years since Christian Loutboutin splashed red nail polish on the sole of a shoe and accidentally created an empire that would go on to sell 500,000 pairs a year (yes, really). Yes, red soled stilettos have become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, seen on the feet of every A-lister du jour. We take a look back at where it all began for this iconic cobbler…
Louboutin was born in Paris 1963, and by his parents along side his three sisters. He was expelled from school three times and decided to run away from home at the age of 12 – the uncharacteristic, albeit entertaining, makings of an ‘it’ man and industry legend!
The 52-year old soon went to work at the famed Parisian cabaret Folies Bergère, where he subsequently landed a job working for shoe designer Charles Jourdan for two years. Launching his own line of women’s shoes in the early 1990’s, it was in ’93 his famed red soles came about, simply from inspecting prototypes for a collection and feeling dissatisfied with the contrast between the vibrant upper and the stolid black sole. He used a model’s nail polish to pain the sole red, and the rest, as they say, was history!
But let’s hear about life in the shoe lane from the man himself…
For breakfast… “It depends where I’m staying. If I’m in Paris, it’s going to be a mass of tea. Liters and liters and liters, and gallons and gallons of tea. Then I have fruit. Pineapple and mango are my favorites. And anytime I have fruit I’m always taking a lemon, and I put lemon on it because I found that every fruit gets reinforced with the smell of the lemon. It brings out the fragrance of any type of fruit.”
Can’t live without… “Fruit. I could live without fish, without salad, but I could not live without fruit. Fruit in the morning is such a big joy for me. I like to grab fruit from the tree. I don’t feel that way with vegetables. Fruit you can eat at any time, any moment, in any type of situation. I like everything about fruit; I like the colour.”
Heels or flats…? “High heels, by far. I hate the idea of natural. For example, I prefer gardens to wild nature. I like to see the human touch. High heels are a complete invention — an extravagance. They’re far from natural, but it’s the impracticality that I adore. I prefer the useless to the useful, the sophisticated to the natural.”
Always bill… “I don’t give away my shoes to celebrities for free. I’m only happy when people like what I do and make the effort to buy them. I would not be happy to see people in my shoes if I knew that they had to be paid to do it, that they had to be pushed. I want to make other people happy with what I do. I wouldn’t get any satisfaction if it was forced.”
Never relent… “Nobody in my family was in this business, but I pursued it because it’s my passion. I’m obsessed by freedom and the belief that you can build something for yourself out of your dreams.”
Hot off the Press… “To be truly honest, I don’t really read fashion magazines. I have a bit of a weakness for the american ‘Vanity Fair’, but my bible is ‘Gardens Illustrated’, which I look through every month – it’s a very, very good magazine.”
The fans say… “Louboutin shoes are timeless and classic,” says Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle UK. “There’s a sense you are wearing luxury and you’re a woman of status. A flash of the red says ‘this is the woman I am. Sexy, stylish and spirited’.”
He says… “I hate the whole concept of comfort! ‘Comfy’, that’s one of the worst words! I just picture a woman feeling bad, with a big bottle of alcohol, really puffy. It’s really depressing, but she likes her life because she has comfortable clogs.”
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