God forgive me, I interviewed Christian Louboutin while wearing a set of trainers. Not fancy sci-fi ones either, but properly old and grimy ones. Louboutin is probably the most famous shoe designers worldwide and officially by far the most prestigious, as outlined by independent ratings company Luxury Institute, which includes named Christian Louboutin as being the most desirable shoe brand on earth in the past 3 years. He is also the man who may be credited, or blamed, for bringing the stiletto back into fashion. So wearing trainers to fulfill him is a bit like suggesting to Jamie Oliver we meet at McDonald’s for lunch.
But then – whaddyaknow – christian louboutin australia turns as much as his tiny and stiletto-filled office wearing trainers himself. (Although where mine say Converse, his say, inside a discreet logo on the side, Christian Louboutin, which, presumably, would come in useful should he forget his name.)
“I look at the face first. So when I look at the face, I make an effort to view the personality and, from that, guess what type of shoes this girl could have.”
Perhaps he was just tired. He had flown for the reason that morning from Dubai where he is about to open his 20th boutique – with another 13 planned this season – and failed to sleep in the plane “whatsoever”. And when he warms up so we turn the conversation away from strict business chat, he is excellent fun, making dry remarks and then smiling quietly afterwards. At one point I ask if, having shod pretty much every celebrity worldwide, from Madonna to France’s first lady Carla Bruni, there is certainly anyone left he’d like being a customer. His eyes skirt around the office, settling at last on a couple of particularly high black stilettos, studded all-around with silver spikes. He turns back and replies, po-faced, “The Queen of England.”
For many years, perfume sales powered the style world. This became jeans. Now, more than ever before, it’s shoes and bags, which is no coincidence that Louboutin arrived in the 90s when this switch began. He, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon are the Holy Trinity from the luxury footwear market, having helped turn shoes from something you put on your own feet to protect yourself from splinters into fetish objects for females. Louboutin is already on top of that triangle.
Where Manolo Blahnik footwear is either plain or quirky, and Jimmy Choos have the distinct sheen of Eurotrash for them, Christian Louboutin shoes say one simple word: se-x. Everything about the subject – using their disco styles, towards the aggressive thrust of the shoe’s curvature, for the almost por-nographic red sole, flashing observers from behind as the lady walks away – shouts se-x.
Seemingly every celebrity beneath the paparazzi sun, from Lady Gaga to Victoria Beckham, has proclaimed their love of the man. But Louboutin himself proves to possess remarkably little fascination with the international celebrity scene. Was he starstruck when, say, Madonna was photographed wearing his shoes? No, he wasn’t. But he had been a little excited as he discovered that the first Mrs Johnny Hallyday had been a fan – “Hallyday is an important singer in France, you know.”
Louboutin also recently received the best honour a shoe designer can receive currently: his shoes have to be featured from the new S-ex As Well As The City film. This is not just a significant plug, but a potentially controversial one, as Manolo Blahnik shoes were such a mainstay of your TV series the term “Manolos” entered the lexicon. But is louboutin shoes australia excited?
He even refused to go on the Oprah Winfrey Show when she did an entire episode about how exactly much she loves his shoes, which happens to be as near that you can reach being knighted in the us. “They filmed the very first area of the show in Paris and taught me to stand outside in the cold – so of course I bought sick,” he says, still outraged through the cheek of this. “So then when they said, ‘Come to Chicago’ [where Winfrey films her show], I said, ‘Are you crazy? I’m sick, my God!'”
Instead, Louboutin prefers his hobbies: landscaping (there are often plant information on his shoes), trapeze (they have a swing in the studio) and, occasionally, dancing. He recently produced a film of himself tap dancing for Simon Fuller’s fashion website, Fashionair, which is actually a vision of unselfconscious joy (and, yes, he made these shoes).
He has been specifically redesigning his Paris apartment for 5yrs. “It’s not really that I’m a perfectionist,” he says, before launching into a seven-minute anecdote regarding how he’s made the builders redo the windows 3 times to obtain the angles right.
Most of all, he works: supervising the factories, having meetings worldwide after which, every six months, he will isolate himself in just one of his four country houses (Egypt, Syria, France, Portugal) as he designs the new collections.
Whenever we meet it’s the very first day of Paris fashion week, a prospect that fails to suffuse his face with joy. “I never was thinking about being a member of the style world – I really wanted to design shoes. I didn’t even know Vogue existed when I was growing up. Vogue, precisely what is that?” he protests.
Not long ago, Louboutin was offered the position of designer at a major fashion label, though he won’t say which one. “And That I really was almost offended,” he says, still sounding it. “I mean, the shoe – you will discover a music with it, there is attitude, there is certainly sound, it’s a movement. Clothes – it’s some other story. You will find a million things I’d rather do before designing clothes: directing, landscaping. Designing clothes?” His face indicates his opinion of this.
Louboutin came into this world in 1963 and raised in Paris. His father had been a carpenter and his awesome mother was “not at all” an increased heel fan. His four sisters liked “cork wedges”, he remembers, without fondness. “Virtually the contrary of what I do now.”
Yet his taste was established in his childhood. When Louboutin was 13, he along with his friends would sneak away from school to visit Le Palace, a Paris nightclub, but while his mates investigated the women on stage, he just considered their shoes. “A number of the shoes I make today remain inspired through the Palace – the disco look, the metal, the glitter.”
He never traveled to fashion or design school and instead got his training employed by, among others, Charles Jourdan, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. However, he had an unfortunate tendency to acquire fired: “It’s because I used to be a dreadful assistant. An assistant is supposed to assist – I always wanted to do my own, personal thing.”
He or she is adamant that he never had any career plan or ambition to possess his company, which I don’t wholly buy. It is quite hard to have success without wanting it very badly, particularly in the fashion business, and Louboutin, for many his Gallic nonchalance, does play the game. He once decided to miss a flight returning to Paris from America so he could spend two more hours in the department store autographing his shoes. “To my favourite hot housewife,” Time magazine 06dexipky he scrawled using one customer’s shoe.
Today, Louboutin footwear is renowned for two things: price and height. A set of Louboutin high heel shoes can readily cost $700 (£465); boots may go up to $2,000 (£1,325) plus more. Nor are his the only real ones: all designer shoes have increased in price by at the very least 50% within the last decade, which Louboutin blames around the euro – “Everything got more expensive, even bread” – in contrast to designers simply jacking in the prices once they realised everyone was happy to pay them.
In addition to being inside the vanguard of higher prices, louboutin australia is likewise at the forefront of higher heels, bringing stilettos back in fashion, together with all the contradictions which come with them. Jennifer Lopez once told Harper’s Bazaar magazine that Louboutin’s shoes “kill you. But they’re the se-xiest shoes around.” How can immobility be se-xy?
At this moment Louboutin starts speaking about “the making of the shoe” and “the direction in the weight” and all of the usual noises people make when trying to assert a high-heeled shoe may be comfortable. But the fact is, irrespective of what the development, the woman is hoicked on her toes. The argument about whether high heels empower women is fruitless and, in the end this time around, just a little tired. But even Louboutin seems stumped through the contradiction. When I inquire if comfort is a crucial consider designing his shoes, he ums and ahs a tad: “It is necessary as a woman doesn’t look nice if she’s not comfortable. However I wouldn’t bring it like a compliment if a person looked at certainly one of my shoes and said, ‘Oh, that looks just like a comfortable shoe’,” he says with distinct scorn. When asked if you find such a thing being a too-high heel, he replies, “You will find a heel that may be excessive simply to walk in, certainly. But who cares? You don’t must walk in high heel shoes.”