An 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.
About Christian Louboutin
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.
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.
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”.
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.