Christian Louboutin speaks to Bazaar on his entry into India, his 20TH ANNIVERSARY,
and what keeps him going
“FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME, WHO HAS ALWAYS LOVED DRESSY, EVENING SHOES, THIS PUMP IS STILL THE MOST PERFECT BECAUSE OF ITS SIMPLICITY AND THE WAY IT ALMOST DISAPPEARS ON THE FOOT,”
He ran away in his teens to travel the world, spending considerable time backpacking in India (in Chennai, his friend Jean-françois Lesage still embroiders exquisite shoe uppers for Louboutin). And Princess Caroline of Monaco was his first client. His red soles unite fashionable women across the globe in a single, chic tribe. And as Christian Louboutin completes 20 years in fashion, there’s no denying that as such, he sits today atop the pinnacle of his business.
But the sometimes-cheeky-sometimes-shy shoemaker takes it in his stride. Even though his is a household name (even in houses where a single red sole is yet to make an entrance), and his shoes are referenced in popular culture— movies, songs, you name it—he doesn’t like talking about it too much. His fan following encompasses both the haute and the hoi polloi. But asking him about this is like hitting a wall. He won’t divulge the name of the client who ordered a shoe with a sole paved with rubies. But what he will discuss is his return to the root of his many inspirations: India. With the opening of his first store in New Delhi’s DLF Emporio, Louboutin is “happy to have found a space in a country I love so much”.
In New Delhi, April will see his anniversary Capsule Collection debut for his Indian fans at the DLF Emporio store. “I have been searching for a space to sell at in India for the longest time,” he says. “And lately, I have realised that a lot of Indian women are buying my shoes. The time seemed right, and here I am!” The last time he came to India was in December 2011; he says that he loves the colours he sees here. The other thing he loves is cabaret (one of his initial inspirations). As part of his ongoing 20-year celebrations, The Crazy Horse, Paris’s iconic cabaret club, will tie up with Louboutin on a show marking their 60 years this month.
However, it’s not only his global motifs and vertiginous heels that have made him famous. If, on one side, he seems besotted with the crafts of India (seen in his Bollywood and Devidas pumps), his obsession with French perfection and elegance forms the other side of the coin. To him, a perfect shoe is one that may not have the most ‘wow factor’, but one that makes the woman feel ‘wow’. “For example, take the Pigalle pump in nude (see left). For someone like me, who has always loved dressy, evening shoes, this pump is still the most perfect because of its simplicity and the way it almost disappears on the foot,” he says. And this is the perfection that his clients value above all else. It’s not loud, but it’s there. And it’s been there for 20 years.
From top: Sketches of Christian Louboutin 20 Year Capsule Collection. Above: The Pigalle pump in nude leather. Below: a graffiti-inspired bootie. All prices upon request.