“Life is a random succession of happy accidents”
- Christian Louboutin
Spikes, bejewels, and stilettos—these are a few of Christian Louboutin’s favourite things. A French designer known for his flamboyance and fine artistry, Louboutin has been in the business of making beautiful shoes since the early 1980s, each pair instantly distinguishable by its sleek, red soles. It’s this vivid mark of distinction that makes a legitimate Louboutin impossible to miss. Characterised by their famous soles, lavish designs, and quality craftsmanship, a Louboutin makes more than just a footprint; a Louboutin makes a statement.
Read on to hear the story of Monsieur Christian Louboutin, the man with the red sole.
Christian Louboutin was born in Paris in 1963, to parents Irene and Roger Louboutin. The youngest of four children, the designer spent a great deal of his childhood in the company of his mother, and his three older sisters.
In 1980, Christian Louboutin left school with no formal qualifications. Around this time, the designer also frequents ‘The Palace’, a legendary Paris nightclub that attracted many influential figures in art, music and fashion, including the likes of Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, and photographer Helmut Newton.
In 1981 Louboutin works at the famed Parisian cabaret Folies Bergère, where his duties include assisting the dancers who perform. In his spare time, it is said that he also sketched shoes for the girls.
According to Vogue Paris, Louboutin joined the French fashion house of Charles Jourdan in 1982, thanks to the support of Christian Dior’s then couture director, Hélène de Mortemart. It is here that Louboutin learns the technical elements of shoe design.
Combining his unique vision with the skills he has learned from Charles Jourdan, Louboutin established himself as a freelance designer, working for the likes of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Maud Frizon.
In 1988, Louboutin worked with French fashion designe Roger Vivier on his seminal exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in Paris. It is said that is was Vivier who largely influenced Louboutin’s undeniable sense of artistry.
A lesser known fact about Louboutin is the time he spent away from fashion. In 1989, the designer left the business of shoe making temporarily to take up landscape architecture. But, after designing large terraces in New York, and gardens in Paris and the French countryside, Louboutin returned to his craft.
In 1992 Christian Louboutin opened his first store in Galerie Véro-Dodat, a historical sky-lit arcade that connects the Rue de Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Rue de Croix-des-Petits-Champs. A short time later, in 1995, Louboutin contributed to the couture collections of Jean Paul Gaultier.
A year of constant collaboration; 2002 saw Louboutin designing the shoes for Yves Saint Laurent’s final haute couture show. The footwear was later produced under the label ‘Christian Louboutin for Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture, 1962-2002’; the first and last time Louboutin associated his name with another fashion designer.
But the year’s collaborations didn’t end there. In 2002 Louboutin also designed shoes for the ready-to-wear and couture collections of Azzaro, Chloe, Diane von Furstenberg, Givenchy, Viktor & Rolf and Albert Elbaz’s debut collection for Lanvin.
In late 2011, ‘Christian Louboutin’ was published by Rizzoli. Written by the designer himself, the book features a forward by John Malkovich, and photographs by famed film-maker and artist David Lynch. As beautiful as a pair of the designer’s famous stilettos, the book features a five-piece foldout binding and a pop-up, because what else would you expect from a book on Christian Louboutin?
The ‘Nudes’ collection is launched, comprised of five styles offered in five flesh-tone shades. Designed to complement various skin tones, Louboutin’s ‘Nudes’ are an instant hint world-wide.
In 2014 Christian Louboutin launched ‘The Passage Collection’, a stunning line of handbags inspired by Galerie Véro-Dodat, the home of the designer’s very first boutique. Introduced in Autumn/Winter 2014, the accessories also featured prominently in Louboutin’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection.
Christian Louboutin’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection stars one of his most surrealistic pieces, the ‘ShoePeaks’ clutch. Inspired by the designer’s fetishistic collaboration with David Lynch in 2007, the artistic accessory takes its name from Lynch’s cult TV series ‘Twin Peaks’. With a design that obscures the boundary between shoe and handbag, ‘ShoePeaks’ sculptural silhouette is just another Louboutin example of fine artistry, craftsmanship and intriguing innovation combined.