Chris­tian louboutin

THE AC­CES­SORIES DE­SIGNER EX­TRAOR­DI­NAIRE HUMBLY SHARES HIS PER­SPEC­TIVES, EX­PE­RI­ENCES AND JOIE DE VIVRE, ALONG WITH AN IN­TRO­DUC­TION TO HIS MULTI-HUED AND WELL-EM­BEL­LISHED MEN’S PIECES FOR THE SEA­SON

DA MAN - Style - - Contents -

The ac­ces­sories de­signer ex­traor­di­naire humbly shares his per­spec­tives, ex­pe­ri­ence and joie de vivre

Most peo­ple tend to as­sume that the ac­ces­sories la­bel founded by Chris­tian Louboutin in 1991 and bear­ing his name took off be­cause of its iconic red soles. In re­al­ity, that’s just the tip of the ice­berg. Ex­trav­a­gant de­signs and rich col­ors that drape ev­ery piece pro­duced are true tes­ta­ments to the fer­vent pas­sion—not to men­tion painstak­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail— en­gen­dered by the French de­signer since a very young age. Shoes are, and will for­ever be, his big­gest love af­fair in life.

2016 cel­e­brates 25 years of his name­sake house, which had al­ready etched an in­deli­ble mark in shoe­mak­ing his­tory. And this sea­son’s sump­tu­ous cre­ations for men are no ex­cep­tion. From the finely em­broi­dered Tu­dor flat shoes to the fire­works-in­spired Louis high-top sneak­ers, ev­ery piece has its own story to tell. In fact, it’s as if it’s im­pos­si­ble for the brand to weave only one theme each sea­son; Louboutin is ir­re­press­ible in his bold and in­no­va­tive footwear de­signs. No less eye- catch­ing and unique are his men’s bags, like the red rub­ber-bot­tomed Ex­plo­rafunk, for in­stance.

While his cre­ations are bril­liantly “loud,” Chris­tian Louboutin him­self is, al­most para­dox­i­cally, a hum­ble char­ac­ter; one who never hes­i­tates to ex­press his ad­mi­ra­tion for oth­ers, af­fec­tion for a par­tic­u­lar mem­ory or lo­cale, and ap­pre­ci­a­tion to­ward those who have in­spired him. He seems to con­stantly be on the learn­ing edge, al­ways hun­gry for some cul­tural ex­cite­ment dur­ing his trav­els, which would even­tu­ally trans­pose into the in­trin­sic and aes­thetic qual­i­ties of his work. This at­ti­tude, along with his multi-faceted per­son­al­ity, sits at the heart of this Parisian haute cou­ture ac­ces­sories house.

DA MAN: You of­ten credit show­girls as the core in­spi­ra­tion for your brand’s women’s shoes. What about the men’s shoes?

Chris­tian Louboutin: When I de­sign for men, I of­ten think of artists, great ath­letes, per­form­ers, de­sign­ers, and so on. They are all in­spi­ra­tional to me, and draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from dif­fer­ent types of artists trans­lates into a di­verse cat­e­gory of men’s shoes. I hope that my shoes in­spire peo­ple, the same way artists in­spire me.

DA: The Louis shoes with the map of Paris are very eye- catch­ing. How did you come up with this, and how did you pick which ar­rondisse­ment you’d like to fea­ture?

CL: The cre­ation of the Plan de Paris [shoes] was truly a la­bor of love. The de­sign is based on a vin­tage map of Paris. Of course, I had to in­clude the 1st ar­rondisse­ment [ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­trict] where my stu­dio and flag­ship bou­tique are still lo­cated to­day. As much as I love to travel, Paris will al­ways be my home—I am a Parisian through and through.

DA: Do you have a dif­fer­ent set of de­sign ap­proaches for men’s and women’s shoes?

CL: Shoes trans­form a wo­man’s body, so she looks at them in a very spe­cific way. For men, it’s dif­fer­ent. It’s more about style and plea­sure be­cause you can’t trans­form a man’s body with a shoe. When de­sign­ing for women, my draw­ings are curvy, while my sketches for men are quite an­gu­lar.

“MORE THAN PAS­SION, DREAMS, OR IMAG­I­NA­TION, IT’S RE­ALLY A LUCKY STAR THAT BROUGHT ME TO WHERE I AM TO­DAY”

DA: What’s the most im­por­tant de­sign el­e­ment in men’s shoes?

CL: Men and women look at shoes dif­fer­ently. Men ex­am­ine them, hold them and try to fig­ure out what they are made of. They try the shoes on to see if they are com­fort­able, and stomp around in them to see if they are durable. When I am dream­ing up de­signs for men, my vi­su­al­iza­tions are com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Is the leather thick enough? Will it ex­pand enough? Does it need to be lined? Men are more con­cerned with func­tion­al­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity.

DA: What about bag de­sign­ing, where do you usu­ally start?

CL: It all starts with a sketch. No mat­ter how much de­tail you put into the de­sign, the fin­ished bag stays true to the orig­i­nal draw­ing, which is not the same for shoes. With a shoe, you must en­sure the de­tails do not al­ter the form, be­cause some­one will even­tu­ally wear and be sup­ported by the shoe.

“i have al­ways had a love af­fair with in­dian cinema and fash­ion, which can clearly be seen in many of my de­signs Through The use of rich col­ors and lav­ish em­broi­deries”

DA: You of­ten men­tion travel as an es­sen­tial part of your de­signs. Could you name, say, three of your fa­vorite des­ti­na­tions that have in­spired you the most and why?

CL: Trav­el­ing is one of my great­est sources of in­spi­ra­tion, with Egypt be­ing one of my fa­vorite places—I ba­si­cally con­sider it a sec­ond home. Da­habibi, my sail­boat on the Nile, is sort of a sanc­tu­ary for me, an in­cred­i­bly re­lax­ing place where I can sketch and draw while be­ing car­ried along the most breath­tak­ing land­scape.

In­dia is also an eter­nally rich source of in­spi­ra­tion for me. I have al­ways had a love af­fair with In­dian cinema and fash­ion, which can clearly be seen in many of my de­signs, es­pe­cially through rich col­ors and lav­ish em­broi­deries.

And when I want to get away from it all, I like to spend time in my stu­dio by the sea in Por­tu­gal, a place that al­ways makes me feel at peace.

DA: Af­ter decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in the busi­ness, what’s the big­gest les­son that you have learned that bud­ding de­sign­ers look­ing to fol­low in your foot­steps should pay at­ten­tion to?

CL: Be flex­i­ble. Most peo­ple think that it’s all about be­ing cre­ative, which is the foun­da­tion of be­ing a de­signer; but you re­ally need to be flex­i­ble, be­cause you have to change a lot of things in lim­ited time. Flex­i­bil­ity means you are not too stub­born.

DA: In your per­sonal opin­ion, what or whom was it that re­ally made the brand such a big hit from the very be­gin­ning?

CL: More than pas­sion, dreams, or imag­i­na­tion, it’s re­ally a lucky star that brought me to where I am to­day. I let my­self be guided by things; what­ever I do al­ways flows from what I’ve done pre­vi­ously.

“WHEN I DE­SIGN FOR MEN, I OF­TEN THINK OF ARTISTS, GREAT ATH­LETES, PER­FORM­ERS, DE­SIGN­ERS, AND SO ON … I HOPE THAT MY SHOES IN­SPIRE PEO­PLE, THE SAME WAY ARTISTS IN­SPIRE ME”

DA: We have to ask this ques­tion and hear it straight from you: How did you come up with the iconic red soles?

CL: In 1992, I de­signed a shoe called Pen­sées. When I re­ceived the pro­to­type from the fac­tory, I no­ticed that some­thing was miss­ing from my orig­i­nal sketch, but I couldn’t put my fin­ger on what it was. While ex­am­in­ing the shoe, my as­sis­tant hap­pened to be paint­ing her nails red next to me. I grabbed the pol­ish and pro­ceeded to paint the soles of the shoes red. From that mo­ment on, red soles be­came my sig­na­ture.

DA: Last but not least, what’s the cra­zi­est thing you’ve ever done for a shoe de­sign?

CL: I’ve had a lot of unique re­quests, but one of the cra­zi­est was ac­tu­ally quite dif­fi­cult to ex­e­cute. There was a man who had a tat­too on his arm of his head on the body of a fish, hold­ing a mer­maid. He wanted em­broi­dery of the same de­sign on a pair of shoes, but he wanted the head of the mer­maid to be made us­ing his girl­friend’s hair. So for the em­broi­dery, he gave us a piece of her hair, and we stitched the hair of his girl­friend into the shoes. Talk about love!

clock­wise louis Plan de Paris high-top sneaker; ex­plo­rafunk ny­lon Mala­chite bag; tu­dor night loafers; the red rub­ber base of the ex­plo­rafunk bag

Top a still im­age from the sea­son’s cam­paign di­rected by and fea­tur­ing dancer and film­maker Blanca li (mid­dle)

Top another still im­age from the sea­son’s cam­paign op­po­site page Chris­tian louboutin and Henri tai flanked by Cuban na­tional ath­letes for the rio Olympics wear­ing cus­tom Chris­tian louboutin out­fits and shoes

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