Christian Louboutin has been creating his namesake luxury footwear for almost 25 years, but as any woman who has worn a pair will tell you, his towering creations with that signature flash of colour are much more than just shoes.
Red is a warning colour. It means danger. Red is the colour of blood, meaning life. Red is the colour of fire, of flames. Red is a very powerful, flamboyant colour. And who knows this better than Christian Louboutin? The Parisian designer made the colour his signature. The soles of his world-famous high heels blaze in a striking red.
Red like love?
The French designer discovered his love for shoes at a very early age: the showgirls of Folies Bergère – a famous Parisian music hall – fascinated him, with their long legs, their attitude, their grace. They somehow burned into his memory and seem to inspire him to this day.
Some years later, Louboutin went to a museum, where a warning sign caught his attention. It said: “Stiletto Heels Forbidden!” The young designer could not understand why someone would ever forbid something that beautiful. He became obsessed. Obsessed with shoes, with their styles and patterns. A remarkable career was about to start.
But why the red soles? There might be a lot reasons, but Louboutin himself often tells of how he sat in front of his early sketches, dissatisfied with the results. There was something missing, a detail, a certain je ne sais quoi. Suddenly, he noticed the smell of nail polish in the air: his assistant was sitting at her desk, painting her fingernails. And at once he knew what was missing. He didn’t like the featureless, blank soles of his creations. So he took the nail polish and the world-famous red sole became the signature of his brand.
These days, everybody knows his creations. High society loves them. Is there a red-carpet event where Louboutins don’t make an appearance? They’re in all the fashion magazines, even in the yellow press. Some people call them the best therapy against depression, something every woman dreams about. But why?
Louboutins are more than articles of daily use. The designs are hard to define, they cannot be pigeonholed. They offer a great variety – you cannot pin them down to only one style.
Solely their red soles and the super-high heels mark Louboutins out from others. In addition, the shoes move from being classic, chic and kittenish to extravagant and dominant. Sometimes they’re colourful, with adventurous patterns, sometimes they’re monochrome and severe. Some might remind you of divine figures, with their wing-like elements, others appear dramatic and menacing, with their striking spikes.
For a lot of people, Louboutins are not normal shoes. They see them as unique and beautiful creations, they are obsessed with Louboutin’s work – that is to say, his artwork.
Louboutin’s designs have included some of the highest heels that have ever been made in the world of commercial and high-end shoe design. His talent for creating towering and unique beauties was nurtured during his time as a shoemaker for the cabaret and showgirls of the Pigalle area in Paris, which is known for its peepshows and sex shops. This could be one of the reasons for the versatility, the unconventionality of his designs. Louboutin seems to gather his inspiration from almost everything and everywhere.
Those heels are another unique feature of his work: they’re a woman’s dream and nightmare at the same time. More a deadly weapon than a shoe, maybe. Who is able to go through daily life in those super-high heels without twisting an ankle?
But maybe that’s the idea behind it: of course you can’t run through your life in high-heeled shoes. But do you have to? Is it really necessary to keep on running the whole time? The daily grind is enough: can’t we just slow down, pause for a while? Maybe that’s an inspiration, too. Which goes to show there is so much room for interpretation when it comes to shoes.
Louboutin has created a platform for shoe lovers – for those who think shoes are more than just two bits of fabric you put on your feet before you leave home in the morning. His shoes seem to offer the possibility of expression, of communication. He leads people into a creative world that is aimed at people who think shoes are more – an obsession, an emotion, an approach.