Christian Louboutin

by Tonie Ong

CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN LogoAn identifiable signature will help any brand stand out, especially these days with so many operating in the luxury game. There’s the iconic suit from Chanel, the ‘New Look’ silhouette of Dior, the slinky gowns at Versace, and the bodycon dress from Alaia. A lot of the most successful labels today have their own indelible signatures that serve as the foundation of their creative evolutions and the center of their brand awareness. In the category of shoes, one signature stands out to be as equally-iconic as that of a Chanel suit and Givenchy’s little black dress – the red soles of Christian Louboutin.

Christian Louboutin white sneakers shoes with studs

Christian Louboutin white sneakers shoes with studs. Credit: andersphoto

Places to Shop for Christian Louboutin

About Christian Louboutin

Designer Christian Louboutin - The man behind the brand

Designer Christian Louboutin – The man behind the brand. Photo: DKSStyle 

One of the famous shoe designers in the industry, Christian Louboutin has built a fashion empire, with over 67 stores across the globe. In the United States alone, he has about 15 establishments across many states. The company is one of a very select group of shoe labels with flagship stores in all the continents, from North and South America, the Middle East, to Southeast Asia. He even has separate stores for men in fashion capitals like Paris and New York, noting that a lot of his female customers have felt uncomfortable trying on shoes around men.

Before starting his business, Louboutin was born in Paris on January 7, 1968, to a family of French-Cameroonian heritage. Growing up with his mother and sisters, he formed a fascination with beauty and fashion early on in his life, getting inspirations from exotic locales and iconic celebrities. In 1980, he dropped out of school and freelanced as a shoe designer for a number of the most beloved fashion houses. He started as an employee for Charles Jourdan, then went on to be Roger Vivier’s apprentice. He also designed shoes for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent for their haute couture shows, which at that time were the most covered by the fashion press.

The Start

Christian louboutin chocolate shoes with diamond necklace

Christian louboutin chocolate shoes with diamond necklace. 

In the late 80’s, he took a break from designing and briefly had a career in landscape gardening, even writing articles about it for Vogue magazine. By the start of the 1990’s however, Louboutin returned to designing footwear, opening his first shop in 1991. One of his first customers was Princess Grace of Monaco, whose compliments to Louboutin’s designs were published throughout the fashion press, giving the word of the hottest new shoe designer. From then on, many celebrities have become faithful clients of his, from icons like Catherine Deneuve and Joan Collins to current stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, and Blake Lively, among others. His work and name were even featured several times in the hit HBO series, Sex and the City, where fashion was a huge focal point in many episodes.

In 2002, Louboutin designed the shoes worn by the models in Yves Saint Laurent’s final haute couture show. It paved the way for the famous collaboration line: Christian Louboutin for Yves Saint Laurent: 1962-2002, the first time the French couturier ever lent his name for another designer’s business. Later on, in 2004, his most famous shoes debuted: the Pigalle pumps. Introduced during the Fall 2004 season, the Pigalle pumps feature a sleek and sexy shoe with pointed tips and rigid stiletto heels. Paired with the famous red soles, it has become one of the best-selling pairs of shoes of all time. It has also been produced in a myriad of diverse styles, such as glittered for a party vibe, studded for a more rock and roll look, and metallic for sophistication.

The Climb

Models wear shoes by Christian Louboutin on runway for The Blonds show by David & Phillipe Blonds

Models wear shoes by Christian Louboutin on runway for The Blonds show by David & Phillipe Blonds. Photo: lev radin

In 2013, the luxury label released a line of uniquely-made Pigalle pumps named “So Kate”, inspired by British model Kate Moss. The shoes feature the classic pumps slightly reshaped to perfectly fit the petite supermodel. A pair from this line was even worn by Monica Belluci in the 2015 James Bond flick, Spectre. In 2016, e-commerce site eBay listed down the top 10 Louboutin items bought in their site, with the black Pigalle pumps in the number one spot. Other items include the Chelita boots (#3), Lady Peep Spikes (#6), Silk Satin Greissimo Pumps (#7), and Macarena Wedges (#10). Although the Pigalle pumps continue to be their best-selling product ever, the list proves that the brand also has a varied selection of items that are revered and bought by faithful customers.

Beyond footwear, Louboutin also has a cosmetics lines, many of which feature the iconic red shade. The label has a colorful array of nail polish, starting with the Rouge Louboutin Metalissme, which is the famous vividly-red shade, going on to more neutral and earthy tones like the brown-ish Irisa and beige-like Tutulle. They also have Loubitag I – III, which are bright hues of blue, pink, orange, and teal. For the lips, they also have a line of both matte and shiny lipsticks, featuring almost all the color ranges of red, pink and nude. Additionally, they have a perfume line as well, with titles such as “Bikini Questa Sera”, “Tornado Blonde” and “Trouble in Heaven”.

In recent years, we have seen Christian Louboutin explore beauty products. Beginning with his nail polishes, the footwear genius released them by category, soon including lipsticks, fragrances and eye make-up into the repertoire. We don’t think they would reach the iconic status of the red soles, after all, those were pretty distinctive. But they can be staples in a woman’s beauty collection, promising long-lasting effects and coming in containers that replicate the look of Louboutin’s heels in one way or another.

Toes that go with Louboutin shoes

Other brands’ first venture into beauty may be into make-up or fragrances, but dare not include Christian Louboutin in that category. His was in nail polishes, and while that may seem unusual for most, it actually makes sense when you consider the history of how Louboutin shoes got their iconic mark—underwhelmed by his first shoes that seemed plain, he grabbed his assistant’s nail polish in vibrant red and painted the soles. The red color underneath was just the amp he was looking for.

Plus, for a man working with footwear, it also follows that the first body part he would be dealing with are feet. The designer was particularly meticulous when doing lookbooks, trying to match the nail color that would work best with his footwear. He knew what shades would look great on toes, so he put in the market lacquers that come in a deep red as well as lighter hues. In addition to that, he has also neutrals and nudes, as they elongate and look good with short toenails.

For Louboutin, the packaging also mattered. When he thought of the bottle his nail lacquers would be in, he created a story in his head, then settled for a heel he once did, the highest he could imagine. So, yes, the long cap that seems deadly is intentional, and so is the small bottle that it comes in. For Louboutin, you have to pace yourself when making yourself beautiful. Just like a high-heeled Louboutin can make you slower in your steps and appreciate the beauty around you more, so can a heavy cap make each brush more intentional and luxurious.

Color your face with cult favorites

Shortly after debuting his nail lacquers, Christian Louboutin dabbled in a beauty item that is most associated with red: lipsticks. For the designer, the lipsticks are for the woman intentional in her expressions and puts on a real impression. After all, the lips are what Louboutin deemed to be most expressive part of the face, second only to the eyes. And so, the brand introduced to the world 38 lip colors that have a glamorous finish and not like what one would look after kicked with a Louboutin heel (we’re kidding!). The names are inspired by the shoes just as much like the colors. Knowing Christian Louboutin, they also come packing with great attitude; the tube that it comes in is as much a fashion accessory as the shoes as it can be worn as a pendant and is meant to catch your attention even while inside your makeup kit. The rouge stands out in black containers while the rest are in gold.

Christian Louboutin is releasing beauty products per category but you didn’t really expect the label to leave the eyes, right? Last year, the brand came up with Les Yeux Noirs, which translates to “dark eyes”, so yes, it comes with a mascara, an eyeliner and an eye pencil, all intended to make your eyes even more glamorous. They come in different colors too, so besides the usual red and black, there are more to explore. Plus, with their packaging, you can expect compliments beyond how you seamlessly blended them on your face.

Fragrances as memorable as the rouge sole

Louboutin said that people have approached him for years to have a signature fragrance, but delving in footwear, he didn’t really see much logic in the jump. But now, things have apparently changed. He saw that there is much impression to be made in smells as much as there is with his iconic soles. Instead of settling for a single scent, however, he created three, all of which have whimsical names: Bikini Questa Sera, Trouble in Heaven, and Tornade Blade. They are meant for women to express themselves beyond clothes that they may not be comfortable in wearing, but perhaps with appealing perfumes could make it a lot bearable.

The heel-inspired caps that have been prominent in other Christian Louboutin products are noticeably absent in the label’s fragrances, but they are still collectibles in their own right. In creating the containers that would house the scents, the brand partnered with Thomas Heatherwick whose most notable works include the 2012 Olympic cauldron, the UK Pavilion during the Shanghai Expo, and the reimagined London Routemaster bus. The vessels are also colored accordingly to reflect the mood of the perfumes.

Intended to be enjoyed by more

After earning success with their red soled-shoes, Christian Louboutin wants to attain even more by bringing their beauty products to more destinations. In line with this, the brand partnered with the Spanish company Puig, which is also working with other luxury brands such as Prada, Valentino and Comme des Garçons, to bring the newly-minted beauty products to Asia, South America and other countries in Europe that are yet to see experience the designer’s venture into beauty.

For fans in Europe, the products can already be found in Rome as well as in Milan where the stations come with beauty advisors. For those who can’t wait for the products to reach their department stores, the goodies can be shopped online through the Christian Louboutin website as well as other online retailers.

To this day, the Louboutin brand is still expanding, venturing into new territories, collaborating with other brands, and releasing high-quality products. With such a huge empire carrying his name, Christian Louboutin is still very much passionate about his work. “I think I make very useless work and I’m proud of it. It’s very important to design things you don’t need,” he once said in an interview.

Selfridges department store interior, Christian Louboutin Boutique

Selfridges department store interior, Christian Louboutin Boutique. Photo: andersphoto 

Woman wearing a Christian Louboutin pair of heels.

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