“My life is a succession
of fortuitous coincidences.”
Christian Louboutin was born in Paris in 1963. He was brought up by his mother and three sisters, and credits this feminine environment as the inspiration for much of his work.
As a child, he recalls discovering a drawing at the Museum of African art, which showed a woman's sharp-heeled shoe, crossed out with a vivid red line. The image, which dated back to the 1950's and was intended to safeguard the museum's parquet floor, fascinated him. He had never seen such a shoe, which in its fine delicacy was in sharp contrast to the prevailing 1970s trends for flat or clunky heeled shoes, and the image never left him.
“Nobody wears shoes
like a dancer on stage.”
A few years later, he discovered Paris' night life: a demi-monde of louche and revellers - some famous, some utterly unknown - united by their fondness for The Palace, a former theatre which had been transformed into a night-club of almost mythical status. He also frequented the music halls and theatres by day. Inspired by such an exotic and sensual world, his earliest designs were intended for the feet of the graceful dancers gliding the stage, an opportunity afforded to him in 1980, when he was offered an apprenticeship at the Folies Bergeres. In 1982, an internship at Charles Jourdan at Romans afforded him subsequent freelance opportunities for various prestigious design houses including Maud Frison, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Following this, an episode working with Roger Vivier on his seminal exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris left a profound effect on the young designer who felt that after such a pleasurable partnership, he could not work for anyone else. And so, relinquishing his vocation in shoes in the late 1980's, he pursued his other passion as a landscape gardener.
However it was not long before his imagination turned back towards his first love. In 1992, upon hearing of a newly available boutique in the Vero-Dodat gallerie, a historical Parisian passage located close to the Palais Royal, Christian and two other friends came together as business associates to officially form Christian Louboutin, the company.
“I opened my studio years ago on a small street in Paris and, after that, my very first store. People laugh because you walk down this particular street and all you see is beautiful women in red soles - Passage Louboutin“
Four months after the boutique opened, an American journalist from W Magazine was sent to Paris with a mission to unearth new trends and places. She stumbled upon two women in an animated conversation about the beauty of the shoes in Louboutin's boutique; the article was published and the business took off.
“I am not producing pills to cure people, so I feel that the whole process should be slightly joyful.“
Over the years, Louboutin’s artistic evolution has been enriched through his love of travel. His taste for the exotic, interpreted to reflect his inimitable aesthetic, makes its appearance in the designs of his shoes and bags season after season. Equally, his passion for the arts - from landscape architecture to cinema - continues to fuel his imagination.