Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Christian Louboutin: Shoe Artist

As a young man he was a real night owl who loved to dress up to go out partying, always in an extravagant and eccentric way.

Farida Khelfa, a close friend since these wild nights at the most exclusive Parisian clubs, says he brings out the best in people and has an astonishing amount of self-confidence nurtured by his mother's love for him. 

She used to dress him up when he was a little boy in perfectly polished and smart clothes always finished off with a bow tie. Her influence can be felt not only in what he wears but also in the shoes he designs.

"Women's relationship to shoes is similar to women's relationship to men. We can't live without them, but living with them is so painful!" Rossy de Palma

Louboutin's love for women emerges from his shoes. Like the Spanish Director Pedro Almodovar, he captures the feminine essence and perceives who women are and what they want so much so that women keep falling in love with is shoes.

He plays with their inner character, making them feel a myriad of different moods and embody different characters through his poetic shoes. It's not surprising that his first job was at Folies Bergères, the famous French Music Hall, where he was surrounded by exuberant show girls.

Kristin Scott-Thomas, a friend of Louboutin for 17 years, says what she loves the most about him is his joie de vivre and his absolute refusal to let problems beat him down.

"His style is so unique that you can wear one of his shoes for over a decade!" Kristin Scott-Thomas

Christian Louboutin is celebrating his 20-year career with a coffee table tome evoking the artistry and theatricality of his shoe designs, from his iconic and glamorous stilettos to his fetishistic pieces.

There's a video about the making of the book featuring his close friends being photographed, including Mika, the talented music star, looking great with fantastic make up! Dita Von Teese is also on it, Louboutin has been designing shoes for her shows for the past 8 years.

"I would never wear any other shoe on stage except for Louboutin." Dita Von Teese

He also collaborates with a wide range of designers, from Alexis Mabille to Rouland Mouret, but the most renowned association of all is with Yves Saint Laurent. Louboutin created a shoe for the finale of Saint Laurent's farewell haute-couture show in 2002.

Sadly, at the moment there's pending court case between the two brands, Louboutin wants to stop Yves Saint Laurent from producing red-soled shoes and Tiffany & Co has just argued that a colour - like the blue of its boxes - can be trademarked and shouldn't be allowed to be copied.

Renowned for his beautifully crafted shoes with their signature lacquer-red soles, Christian Louboutin has achieved cult status with celebrities as well as fashionistas. The book is out now and a retrospective of his life and career will take place at the Design Museum from March 28 - July 1.

By Christian Louboutin
Photography by Philippe Garcia
Contributions by Eric Reinhardt and John Malkovich
(£85, Rizzoli New York)  

Other Fashion books:
Business Power in High Heels
'Erotic Chic' Fashion Images by Carine Roitfeld
A Decade of Fashion and Style