Christian Louboutins are arguably the most popular designer shoes that money can buy. Known for their high quality and distinct red sole, these shoes are beloved by footwear fans around the world and sported by tons of A-list celebs. After all, is there anything else that can make you feel sexier and more confident than a pair of stilettos that boost both your height and your fashion cred?
It’s well known that Christian Louboutins aren’t cheap — a single pair of them can easily set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars, according to their website — but that hasn’t stopped many of us from plunking down an entire month’s rent for a coveted set of heels — or, at least, daydreaming about doing it. For now, we’ll just have to live vicariously through Cardi B videos, pretending we’re rich enough to have a custom pair — or 10 — made just for us.
So what’s the deal with these oh-so-expensive, elegant shoes? Who is Christian Louboutin, and what is his design process really like? And why are the soles of these shoes red, anyway? Read on to discover the untold truth of Christian Louboutins.
So, just who is Christian Louboutin anyway?
So who is the man behind the stiletto? Christian Louboutin grew up on the streets of Paris, the child of working-class parents. A free spirit, Louboutin started drawing at the age of 10, frequently missing school in favor of getting lost in museums. In fact, it was a sign at a museum banning high heels that captured Louboutin’s imagination, sparking his lifelong love of shoes. “Rather than being attracted to forbidden things, I was drawn to the sign on aesthetic grounds,” he recalled in an interview with the BBC. “It dawned on me that most objects start life as a drawing.”
After spending years in the ’70s in the queer and punk scenes in Paris, Louboutin started freelancing for fashion houses such as Chanel, though he didn’t exactly thrive in those positions. “I found it hard to be a nine-to-five artisan,” he continued.
In 1991, Louboutin opened his first boutique, eventually rising to the top of the footwear field. Nowadays, there are 150 Christian Louboutin stores across the globe and plenty of satisfied customers.
This is why the soles of Christian Louboutin shoes are red
One of the things that make Christian Louboutins stand out so much from other shoes is their signature red sole. Often replicated by copycats, this pop of color on the bottom of the shoe renders the sole a piece of art instead of something to simply be trod upon.
The whole thing started when Louboutin was designing a shoe inspired by artist Andy Warhol. But when the prototype arrived, Louboutin noticed that something seemed to be missing. “I was very happy, because it was similar to the drawing,” he explained to The New Yorker. “But the drawing still was stronger and I could not understand why.”
Fortunately, a deus ex machina arrived in a rather unconventional way, which changed everything for Louboutin. “There was this big black sole, and then, thank God, there was this girl painting her nails at the time,” he continued. Struck by inspiration, Louboutin took the red polish from his assistant and proceeded to coat the bottom of the shoes with it. “Then it popped, and I thought, This is the drawing,” he added.
Christian Louboutins can change the way your body looks
High heels aren’t exactly a new invention, as they’ve been around for some time — since at least the 16th century, as noted by ABC News. But until Christian Louboutin came along, most high heels weren’t so, well, high, says Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum. “He has sort of upped the ante in terms of how high the heel can soar,” she said (via The New Yorker).
Thanks to the height of Louboutin’s stilettos, you can make your body look more desirable in a variety of ways. Obviously, you’ll appear to stand taller, thanks to the shape of the shoe. But in addition to this, Christian Louboutins make your legs look longer, give your calves more definition, and lift the way your buttocks sit. And while it may be expensive to shell out the money for a pair of these miracle shoes, it’s arguably cheaper than cosmetic surgery.
To that end, you should probably know what happens to your body when you wear high heels, as some of it isn’t so pretty. But for some of us, it’s worth it.
This is what Christian Louboutin says is the biggest misconception about his work
When you think of a pair of Christian Louboutins, what immediately pops to mind? In all likelihood, you probably conjured an image of stilettos, which is understandable given how popular Louboutin’s high heel designs are. But as he tells it, the notion that he only makes high heels is the biggest misconception out there about him. “From the beginning, I’ve done everything, including flat shoes,” he explained in a chat with Footwear News. “I’ve always loved them.” That’s good news for those of us who just never could figure out how to walk in anything but flats!
While high heels are often synonymous with sexiness and feminine beauty, Louboutin believes that they’re far from the only shoe that can convey that kind of beauty. “For me, flat shoes can be as sexy and as liberating as high heels,” he continued. “It depends on the person. They have to make it their own.” We’ll get right on that.
Christian Louboutin fought to trademark those famous red soles
Of course, when you make an in-demand product that retails for thousands of dollars, there’s a good chance that copycats will try to cash in on your creation. To that end, Christian Louboutin filed a lawsuit against a Dutch retailer that tried to sell their own take on red-soled stilettos in 2012, according to CNN.
The suit, which argued that the iconic red soles should be protected by trademark, made it all the way to the European Union’s highest court. So when judges ruled in favor of Louboutin six years after the lawsuit was first filed, the shoe designer was obviously happy about the outcome. “Christian Louboutin warmly welcomes this judgment,” the company shared in a statement. “For 26 years, the red sole has enabled the public to attribute the origin of the shoe to its creator.”
While there are still plenty of knockoff Christian Louboutins out there — a quick Google search will show you that — Louboutin isn’t messing around. According to the company website, they have a “zero tolerance” policy in effect, as well as a strategy to fight counterfeiting.
Christian Louboutin expanded the nude collection to be more inclusive
One of Christian Louboutin’s most famous line of shoes is his nude line, which is designed to showcase the female form rather than the shoe itself. However, before he launched the line back in 2013, he was presenting it to a group of buyers — and one woman called Louboutin out on a glaring omission. “She said, ‘You’re showing a shoe and calling it nude, but it is not nude to me. This is beige,'” he revealed in an interview with the Independent. “Nude is a color of skin and this is not the color of my skin.'” Naturally, and with good reason, the woman was justifiably “annoyed.”
To that end, Louboutin knew he had to do something about it. “So I looked at her, she’s Black, and I thought, ‘Well I’m sorry, you’re right, this is beige and not nude,'” he continued. “Immediately when she told me that, I understood.”
Louboutin than broadened the nude line to five colors before its official release in 2013. Since then, even more colors have been added, making the line truly representative of what “nude” really means.
Christian Louboutin designs shoes for this kind of woman
Christian Louboutin sells quite a bit of shoes every year. In fact, more than 500,000 pairs of his designs leave stores in the hands of happy customers every year, with prices starting under $400, going all the way up to $6,000 for some of the fanciest pairs. So you may be tempted to think that Louboutin has something for every buyer in order to appeal to a broad customer demographic.
However, that’s not the case, as Louboutin’s style is only for customers with an edge. “I’ll do shoes for the lady who lunches, but it would be, like, a really nasty lunch, talking about men,” he revealed in a chat with The New Yorker. “But where I draw the line, what I absolutely won’t do, is the lady who plays bridge in the afternoon!”
That’s not lost on Hamish Bowles, Vogue‘s European editor-at-large. “There’s the promise of something wicked in Christian’s shoes,” he proclaimed. “They’re a little dangerous, and there’s a sense of teetering on the precipice between avoiding dreary conventional good taste and tumbling into something far more outrageous.” And we at The List are here for it.
Yes, there are Christian Louboutin shoes for men
Christian Louboutin designed women’s shoes for decades, and enjoyed wild success while doing so. But back in 2009, pop star Mika approached the designer for a few pairs of his own to dazzle in while wearing them on stage. That’s when Louboutin found himself inspired — perhaps more than he expected. “I drifted towards designing a full collection, which of course he didn’t need,” he told GQ. “He needed a few pairs. I ended up putting some of them in my stores and they flew away.” Thus, Louboutin’s shoe lines for men were born.
Designing shoes for men was a new challenge for Louboutin, who, like many men, had been conditioned to equate the notion of a good shoe with its longevity. But he’d also realized that a lot of men had jettisoned that concept altogether. “It could be called metrosexual or whatever,” he continued. “But a lot of guys who are really into shoes are just like women who are really into shoes.” Hey, sometimes you just want something shiny!
While designing shoes, Christian Louboutin has to be in specific locales
One thing that’s evident about Christian Louboutin is that he’s a little bit extra. For one, in addition to his French properties, the shoe juggernaut owns homes in such far-flung places as Egypt, Portugal, and Syria — the latter being an actual palace. “I have this disease that if I feel good somewhere I sort of buy a house,” he explained to The New Yorker. Clearly Louboutin appreciates the finer things in life, and that includes real estate.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the well-traveled Louboutin prefers to design shoes on location in seasonally appropriate locales. “What is really important is the heat,” he continued. “It’s difficult to think of winter when it’s sunny, so it’s really a big thing for me to have the correct radiation.” So, of course, Louboutin prefers to be somewhere more chilly when it’s time to buckle down and create a winter collection.
From sketch to designer shoe, this is how Christian Louboutins are born
Once Christian Louboutin has settled into his location of choice with studio director Hugo Marchand, he prepares to design the shoes for his next collection. After conjuring inspiration from the world around him, Louboutin gets to work sketching, and, from there on, the magic happens. “Every drawing brings me to another,” he shared in a chat with The New Yorker. “It’s like a sentence. Or, do you know the game cadavre exquis [a Surrealist parlor game] where one sentence builds to another?”
Once the sketches are complete, Louboutin has them sent to a factory in Milan where prototypes are created — which are sometimes not what he expects. “You have this idea in your head, and then it arrives in, like, electric-blue napa,” he continued. “It’s kind of scary.”
After both Louboutin and Marchand have properly analyzed the prototypes, they once again meet up to discuss next steps. “We go to the castle in the country and look at what works, what doesn’t work,” Marchand added. There, any final changes are made. Um, think they need an assistant or two? We’d be happy to help!
These are some of the celebs who love Christian Louboutins
Part of the reason that Christian Louboutins are so popular, other than because they’re some of the finest-crafted shoes in the world, is that tons of celebrities love to strut their stuff while wearing his creations on their feet.
For starters, everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Kanye West to Cardi B has given Louboutin a shout-out in their songs, as noted by Racked. In fact, Cardi B has been credited with making the shoe more popular among more diverse crowds, a phenomenon called the “Cardi B effect.” Additionally, Priyanka Chopra is also a huge fan of Christian Louboutins. “The first time I had ever worn Christian’s shoes was for a shoot,” she revealed in a chat with InStyle. “I had just watched Sex and the City, and I was like, ‘These are SJP’s!'” She added that she was “excited” to be wearing Carrie Bradshaw’s footwear of choice.
Other fans of Louboutin’s work include Blake Lively, Beyoncé, Tina Turner, and Princess Caroline of Monaco, to name just a few, as noted by the BBC.
Christian Louboutin refuses to design shoes for free… for anyone
Speaking of Sex and the City, a show that was quite popular thanks to its fashion choices (among other things, as noted by Vogue), if you watched it, you probably noticed the Christian Louboutins that characters wore in the series. And while some designers would be over the moon to see their work on a program that popular, Christian Louboutin himself isn’t much of a television fan.
In fact, Louboutin wasn’t especially inclined to get his shoes on the show after being approached by producers, though his reasoning is honestly pretty solid. “They called me but they don’t want to pay,” he explained in an interview with WWD. “Nothing is great publicity when it doesn’t pay. That’s my job. I design shoes and people buy them.” We can’t say we’re mad about this logic.
Additionally, Louboutin doesn’t seem to be the type to get starstruck by his clients, no matter how high their profile might be. “You don’t know them necessarily,” he continued. “I’m not going to speak of people I don’t know.”
Why Christian Louboutins have so many studs
If you take one look at some of Christian Louboutin’s shoe designs, especially those with insanely high heels and custom leatherwork, you might be tempted to think he’s inspired by, say, Fifty Shades of Grey. However, Louboutin isn’t catering to anyone, so to speak. “I appreciate that some perceive them that way,” he revealed to the BBC. “But people project their own ideas on to a designer’s work, and sometimes this isn’t what the designer intended.” For example, when Louboutin puts studs on a shoe, it’s not an attempt to conjure anything intimate — it’s more of an homage to punk rock, a style he appreciates.
However, Louboutin does recognize that his design tendencies have gotten simpler over the years, evoking the body’s natural lines. “Now I tend to go for simpler, more bare designs, ones that emphasize the shape of the leg,” he continued. “I’ve gone from dressy to undressed.” And well, that’s kind of appealing.
You'll never find a discount line of Christian Louboutins
For many of us, owning a pair of Christian Louboutins isn’t necessarily something that’s included in our budget. While we might hope to receive them during the holidays or on our birthdays, forking over the cash for Christian Louboutins is a big deal.
To that end, is there a chance that Louboutin might consider designing a more affordable line of footwear some day? In a nutshell, it’s not likely. “It would offend me to put my name on a design I would not be proud of,” he proclaimed in the documentary Christian Louboutin: The World’s Most Luxurious Shoes (via The Telegraph). “It’s non negotiable.”
That being said, Louboutin knows that his shoes aren’t going to save the world. But he also values art for art’s sake. “I think that I make very useless work and I’m very proud of it,” he continued. “It’s very important to design things that you don’t need.”
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