Christian Louboutin, the man with a thousand and one shoes

A committed designer, Christian Louboutin has made his red soles famous all over the world. A look back at a remarkable career – which is far from having said its last word.

  Christian Louboutin, l'homme aux mille et un souliers  

Christian Louboutin was born on January 7, 1964, in Paris. The youngest of four Breton-Cameroonian siblings, he grew up surrounded by his sisters, his mother and his cabinetmaker father. At a very young age, he took an interest in the theatre, which he frequented regularly. But it was, at the age of 10, the vision of a poster at the Museum of Arts of Africa and Oceania banning the wearing of stiletto heels that can scratch the floor, which will lead him to his passion: shoes. He redraws the shoe frantically, with a certain sense of detail. 'In my work, I now realize the importance and influence of my father [adopted, editor's note] . He taught me to look at objects' , he said in an interview with Gala in 2017.

Christian Louboutin enfant

How did Christian Louboutin start his career?

After trips to Egypt and India, Christian Louboutin is back in Paris. There, he landed an internship at the Folies Bergères, in the IX th district, where he sells prototype shoes to dancers. His very first? He makes it out of mackerel skin. Then he leaves the theater, without however moving away from the world of the night. Accustomed to the Palace alongside Vincent Darré and Eva Ionesco, he also rubs Thierry Ardisson , Arielle Dombasle or the Putman family – to name but a few. In 1982, he started looking for a job in the world of sewing. He contacted several houses, and finally decided to go to Romans-sur-Isère, often described as the 'French shoe capital'. Humanly, success is not at the rendezvous. Professionally, on the other hand, he learns the techniques of model making. An enriching experience, which allowed him to then join the ranks of Hervé Léger and then Chanel.

When did he launch his brand?

In 1988, the young designer joined Roger Vivier. 'I became his personal assistant to orchestrate his exhibition at the Musée des Arts de la mode. He became my mentor. […] For six months, by his side, I put creation on hold' , Christian Louboutin told Stéphane Bern in an interview with Madame Figaro , in July 2011. A parenthesis that he extended by becoming a landscape designer: the opportunity for him to work on color, mixtures of materials, shine or in opposition to mattness. It wasn't until 1991 that he found the shoe again, launching a business in his name. The factory found, he inaugurated his first shop in Paris , in the heart of the 1st arrondissement, under the arcades of the Vero-Dodat gallery .

The famous red soles of Christian Louboutin

Why do Louboutins have a red sole?

Christian Louboutin is well established: however, success with the general public is not really there. A few visits from fashion pundits change the game: the designer finds himself in the pages of the Vogue american and magazine In . Which does not encourage him to slow down. And then, in 1992, Christian Louboutin had an illumination. While trying to develop a model for his new collection, the designer notices one of his collaborators painting her nails. He grabs the brush of red varnish, repaints the sole of his shoe and gives birth to the Louboutin myth. In the process, he became the official shoemaker for Jean Paul Gaultier, Diane von Fürstenberg and Yves Saint Laurent. Since then, Christian Louboutin has let his creativity do the talking for each collection, mixing models in pop colors and more elegant shades. Over time, it expands its range by also offering sneakers, for both men and women, and handbags. Her famous red sole crowds the red carpets as well as the largest avenues in the world and allows him to arrive 111 th in the ranking of plus great fortunes de France selon le magazine Challenges . In 2022, it is estimated at 1.05 billion euros.

Well aware of having a voice and a platform, Christina Louboutin does not hesitate to use her eponymous brand to make social commitments. One of his biggest hits dates from 2021: he then asked anti-racist activist Assa Traoré to promote his pumps, and pledged to donate the money from sales to organizations working for social justice. The same year, he bought the Gardens of Kerdalo , in Trédarzec — a site listed in the inventory of monuments. Something to return to his first love as a landscaper.