Christian Louboutin, the man behind that famous red-soled stiletto, once said: “To feel like a woman, wear heels. To feel like a goddess, wear five inches.”
He’s quite right – there’s nothing like stepping out in a pair of vertigo-inducing heels to feel truly, deeply, fabulous (especially from a Bentley!). And if nothing else, stepping out in a pair of Louboutin’s red soled icons of female fashion, makes you feel fabulous.
I have a bit of an obsession with Louboutin heels. I won’t share how many pairs I own, but it’s not a small amount. Louboutin heels make a statement; they say you have a passion for design, that you want to wear what makes you feel good, and you’re very much a car to bar type of woman! I went to a fashion show at Selfridges in Manchester a couple of years ago, and had lovely evening with my friend playing Spot the Louboutin, and then creating a job, an attitude and a catchphrase for the wearer. Our favourites were a pair of Fifi Studded Heels worn by a minor celebrity with firm, vocal views on life – she was little (even in the shoes) but she was fierce! Imagine my joy when these shoes come into the boutique. We actually have a pair right now, in a 38.5. Trust me, if you’re wearing these, you are not the designated driver! (and neither was I in that Bentley super car).
Christian Louboutin took a slightly unconventional approach to becoming a shoe designer. His first job was assisting the entertainer in the cabaret at famous Parisian hotspot, the Folies Bergères, in the 1970s. At the same time he was a fixture on the Paris party scene, rubbing shoulders with stars such as Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol. He developed a fascination with shoes at a young age, attributing his love of the high heel to a sign he saw in a museum, requesting that women not wear stiletto heels as they damaged the wooden floors. He said: “I wanted to defy that”, Louboutin said. “I wanted to create something that broke rules and made women feel confident and empowered.”
In the early 1980s, he took some drawings of shoes, featuring his signature high heel, to a number of couture houses, and found employment with Charles Jourdan, the eponymous fashion house, founded in 1919, famous best for M. Jourdan’s designs of women’s shoes. Following this, Louboutin met Roger Vivier, the man credited with the design of the first platform shoe, in 1937, and the first stiletto heel in 1954. Louboutin became an apprentice in Vivier’s atelier, learning his trade until he was ready to go freelance, when he worked for fashion houses including Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. In 1991 he set up his own company, opening a shoe salon in Paris, which was soon graced by Princess Caroline of Monaco. The princess complimented the store to a fashion journalist, whose subsequent publication of the Princess’ comments put the store on the fashion map of Paris. Clients such as Diane von Fürstenberg and Catherine Deneuve followed, putting the Louboutin brand firmly on the radar for all dedicated followers of fashion.
His single biggest client is American romance novelist Danielle Steel, who is reputed to own over 6,000 pairs and is known to have purchased up to 80 pairs at a time when shopping at his stores.
It’s not entirely clear where his idea for the iconic red sole came from. Louboutin says the colour was inspired by the nail polish worn by one of his assistants, and as a marketing ploy it’s an idea born of genius. The man himself says: “The shiny red colour of the soles has no function other than to identify to the public that they are mine. I selected the colour because it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable, and the colour of passion.”
It is said that Louboutin’s shoes are extremely uncomfortable to wear, although this varies of course according to your foot shape, natural curve of the arch and how long you’re planning on wearing them. Some women do a lot better than others, but this is the case for all super-high heels, of course. Louboutin himself said, when asked about the shoe’s shape: “ People say I am the king of painful shoes. I don’t want to create painful shoes, but it is not my job to create something comfortable. I try to make high heels as comfortable as they can be, but my priority is design, beauty and sexiness. I’m not against them, but comfort is not my focus.”
For me, as well as the iconic styles such as ‘So Kate’ which are eyewatering stunning and eye wateringly difficult to walk in, I also love the lower heels such as ‘Speedy Kate’ and more recently I have discovered So Jane and Pumppie Wallis , I love these styles so much because they are incredibly comfortable, whilst at the same time eluding glamour and class. Check out the heels on the sling backs which is modelled on a Louboutin perfume bottle top, every time I wear these shoes I get asked about the them and if I am selling them!
Why do I love Louboutin’s shoes? They make me feel sexy, they give me a boost of feminine power, they boost my feelings of fabulousness. I have heard arguments that stilettos are the ultimate in male control over women, reducing our ability to walk, or run. My answer to that is that what you wear is a matter of personal choice, nobody forces a woman into high heels, or flats, we do as we wish, when we wish. That’s power.
I’ll leave you with another comment from Christian Louboutin. If you relate – come and see me, let’s get you Louboutin-ed.
“I’ll do shoes for the lady who lunches, but it would be, like, a really nasty lunch, talking about men. But where I draw the line, what I absolutely won’t do, is the lady who plays bridge in the afternoon.”