Rule breakers: Christian Louboutin

Success is rarely a product of following the herd, and these leaders in business, fashion and the arts have certainly broken the mould

By Melissa Magsaysay 14/11/2018

In the ’90s, a young Christian Louboutin brought unabashed sexiness to women’s shoes with his signature red-lacquered soles and fierce five-inch heels. Since launching his eponymous collection 25 years ago, the French designer has continued to redefine the look of luxury, creating everything from elegant sky-high stilettos to bags, cosmetics and men’s footwear. His artfully edgy products have garnered a loyal following. Guided not by trends but by the desire to make the wearers of his pieces feel attractive and empowered, Louboutin has set a higher standard for accessories.

Fashion’s new frontier

Fashion is a game, and fashion needs to think that it innovates all the time. The
motto of fashion is basically ‘Move On’. There was this moment in fashion where
it was about ‘it’s short, it’s long, it’s large, it’s non-coloured, et cetera’. Now, because of the internet, this entire bubble has exploded. People can embrace more, and it’s very much a mix. More than design and more than colours, it’s really about the attitude of the street.

Also, it’s true that fashion has never been closer to art, to photography, and to painting. You can have a great photographer who does a collaboration, or a great painter who has been adding things on dresses. There’s been a lot of mix, and I
think that fashion has become such a big temple of beauty.

Inspiration is everywhere

The nice thing is that you don’t necessarily have to look at beautiful things to design something that is going to be beautiful. Art is very much about that. If you look at photography, it’s not that everything has to be dainty or pretty. Sometimes out of really awful things comes a great piece of art.

My inspiration can come from anywhere. It comes from architecture, it comes from finance, it comes from objects, it comes from textiles, it comes from dance or the way people are moving. It can be anything. If you keep your eyes wide open, there’s always something to look at which is going to be inspirational.

Steps to success

When I’m designing my shoes, I’m just thinking about the shoes. I’m not thinking shoes connected to clothes, really; I never think about that. The only moment when I’m really thinking about fashion is when I’m working with a designer who’s designing clothes. Otherwise, I design in a vast panorama, in a vast audience.

I like to think of myself a bit like a jewellery designer. First of all, some shoes
are really pieces of jewellery when they’re very ornamented. There is something
very precious in shoes. Also, if you see jewellery designers when they design the jewellery, they never think, “In a season it’s going to be out”. Someone who is buying jewellery, the most wealthy and extravagant person, is not buying jewellery to throw it out after six months.


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