HISTORY OF LOUBOUTIN AND THE RED SOLE (GIFT YOURSELF)

When a single color can propel you to the height of fashion cool, you know you got something good. You in fact have no doubt already figured out we’re talking red, and in True Fashionista style, the king of said color, Frenchman Christian Louboutin. For the last 25 years, his signature red-soled high heels have commanded fashion mags and runways worldwide. 

Sometimes that moment of brilliance just…happens. As the story goes, Monsieur Louboutin noticed his assistant painting her nails a bright red color and the thought struck him to use that color in his shoe designs. ” I took one look and decided to color my soles red as a statement for the season,” Louboutin told Footwear News. “I thought, ‘Oh my god! Red soles are so flirtatious,’ and my customers asked me not to stop.” 

Biography.com shares how Louboutin was born in Paris in 1963. Growing up amid the city’s exciting cabaret scene, he was expelled from school at age 16 for spending all his time sketching shoes instead of doing his schoolwork.  After shopping his designs to all the major couture houses around Paris, eventually Louboutin landed at famed cabaret Folies Bergère. Here, he tended to the dancers, which included fulfilling his personal dream of creating shoes for them. Louboutin landed a job with Charles Jourdan in the early 1980’s, where he stayed until setting up his own Paris shop in the early 1990’s. 

His creative, True Fashionista shoes soon attracted celebrities and nobility alike. Princess Caroline of Monaco was an early customer, as was Madonna, who has sported his high heels in several of her videos. Sara Jessica Parker’s “Sex in the City” character Carrie Bradshaw was also quite the fan, providing possibly the biggest promotional boost of his burgeoning career in the early 2000s. Among more recent celebrities, two Kates, Moss and Middleton aka the Duchess of Cambridge, have also been spotted sporting Louboutin’s True Fashionista red-soled masterpieces. 

And don’t think that for a second he’s riding the promotional wave of giving his shoes out for free, because he just. Plain. Doesn’t. Louboutin famously said in a HelloMagazine interview, “You’re dying to have this thing or that thing? That’s an important feeling that everybody should be able to have, regardless of how famous you are. So it’s actually an act of charity that I’m doing (by not giving away the shoes for free)” he laughed to Fern Mallis during a 2017 talk at New York’s 92Y.

It’s been over two decades now and Louboutin’s creativity is still riding high, turning out season after season of original, inspired footwear that is very much purchased at prices ranging anywhere from $400 up to $6,000. In addition to his Paris headquarters, Louboutin now has stores around the world. His designs have gone beyond women’s high heels to include men’s shoes, as well as handbags and beauty items. A true artist by nature, Louboutin has taken his time to properly cultivate his empire. “Things have been growing very organically and have not been pushed,” Louboutin told Footwear News, “We’ve gradually opened more stores. Categories have been added little by little. I took my time to do what I actually wanted to do.”

In return, his creations remain timeless. Marina Larroude, fashion director for Barneys New York, added that Louboutin continues to be one of the retailer’s best-selling brands, for both men and women. “Louboutin clients keep coming back for more,” she said. “They are like a collector’s item. Customers want the pump in various colors, as well as his novelty pieces. His shoes don’t go out of style after a season. They are an investment piece.”

Even in these politically turbulent times, Louboutin reflects to Footwear News, innovative design is needed now more than ever before. “When times are tough and you’re in a year where there are wars or problems, fashion gets more important,” the designer said. “The more things are morose, the more you need excitement. A shoe is protection against morosity.” You don’t get much more True Fashionista than that! To learn more about Christian Louboutin, check out his book Christian Louboutin, An extraordinary monograph created by Christian Louboutin, a stunning volume, with a fanciful and intricate pop-up, an elaborate foldout cover, and dramatic still-life photography- just what every True Fashionista needs!

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