Any woman who has ever set eyes on a pair of red bottom-ed shoes (or any man who has set eyes on a woman wearing them), knows there is something special about French shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s creations.
More wearable work-of-art than shoe, Louboutins are immediately recognizable not just because of their distinct scarlet soles, but also for their opulent designs and ornamentation.
Louboutins, with their soaring heel heights (and prices), have become as iconic as the Chanel bag, and are worn by the likes of Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dita Von Teese, Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie.
In a recent Q&A with the designer, Forbes asked the 53-year old, Paris-born and raised master of the stiletto about his life, inspiration and how the distinctive red sole came into being.
Louboutin explained growing up with a mother and sisters helped him understand women. When he was 16 he was given a book on footwear designer Roger Vivier and he thought, ““How amazing, it really is a career. You can make a living designing shoes!” His early inspirations were cabaret dancers and showgirls. He explains he typically isolates himself for several weeks in order to conceptualize a new collection.
Also, he never advertises and his brand has remained independently owned and operated throughout its 25 years in the business, because as Louboutin explains, “The best advertising is the pleasure of women. You don’t need to advertise if there are many women who appreciated what you are doing.”
Most importantly, the interview susses out how his designs’ distinctive signature red sole — complete now with their own hashtag #redbottoms — came into being.
“When the Pensee first came off the line, a model in pink crepe, I saw that it couldn’t have come any closer to the original drawing, and yet something wasn’t right. It took me a while to figure out it was because the sole was black. I grabbed my assistant’s nail polish and painted the soles red. My early drawings of shoes were very classic: one of the first looked very much like the Pigalle that lives in my collection today. I designed quite a few shoes in the ’80s using unique materials such as fish scales and tree bark. However, the Pensee – the shoe which inspired the red sole – is the most iconic and enduring shoe, in my mind.”
Certainly a creative way to get a leg up on the competition!