October 30, 2012

In Conversation with Christian Louboutin

My personal Photo
Autumn is making its way to the city. All around town, the leaves are changing gorgeous rust and golden colors. Nothing says autumn like a brisk stroll through a sun-strewn Central Park. Nothing that is, except The New Yorker Festival. I love that the readers’ diverse interests shape the magazine’s festival. There were so many events that I wanted to attend, if only there was more time… I ended up spending the afternoon with Lauren Collins and Christian Louboutin.



It goes without saying, that I adore a great shoe. When it comes to shoes, it’s difficult for me to pick favorites, but any list would have to include Mr. Louboutins’. While I generally favor discretion, Louboutins suit me. The lasts are shorter (from toe to heel), the arch is higher and the width is narrower across the foot- all things that work for those with narrow feet. Mr. Louboutin was unapologetic when it came to the fact that his shoes are designed with a narrow foot in mind.



Courtesy of Christian Louboutin 
I’ve always loved the openness of the Louboutin atelier- a highly specialized workshop, where all types of Louboutins are made to measure and customized in every way imaginable. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing a few Christian Louboutin exhibitions that have forced me to question beauty and the notion of adornment. The Ballerina Fetish Shoe comes to mind.

That being said, I was very curious to hear Mr. Louboutin speak, in his own words, in an intimate setting. Mr. Louboutin was incredibly considerate, humble and demure with a great sense of humor. I loved when Christian Louboutin spoke of the drawing that inspired him to begin obsessively drawing shoes as a child. When he speaks about shoes, his energy and passion are palpable. Mr. Louboutin’s business is predicated on that passion.  

Courtesy of Christian Louboutin 
Mr. Louboutin was decidedly clear that he designs shoes for women because, women purchase shoes for themselves. “I’m working as someone who loves women,” the designer exclaimed. Mr. Louboutin spoke of taking a balanced approach in order to design shoes that men, but more importantly, women love. Mr. Louboutin explained that he likes his shoes to be worn, not simply because it keeps him in business. “Life is on the people. A shoe should be living its life rather than just being.” A few lovely care and maintenance tips were provided, which I will share in an upcoming post.

Every element of Mr. Louboutin’s designs is carefully considered. Even subtitles like “the musicality of a shoe.’’ One of my pet peeves is the sound of a poorly constructed shoe. For Mr. Louboutin, the sound a shoe makes is pure evocation. A Louboutin shoe commences with a sketch. Summer collections are dreamed up while floating down the Nile on his traditional Egyptian sailboat (in better times) or in Brazil. Winter collections are conceived in cold locales. The way people walk; conversations, movement, dance, architecture, fine art, objects (and pieces of objects), textiles and travel are all sources of inspiration. 



Once the sketches are completed, the team at Louboutin’s factory in Milan turns the sketches into prototypes. Shoe design is a matter of proportion. A well-made heel works with the center of gravity. For someone who loves the design process, it was a pleasure to hear about the process of seeing the prototype, women in the studio trying it on, tailoring and cutting the shoe. It’s truly a gift when someone can share with you, their passion for what they do. 

A few lovely bits---

On his biggest pleasure- “To design.”

On Minimalism- “Sometimes people talk about minimalism, but it isn’t minimalist. It’s just boring.”

On Men and their shoes- “Men are very proud to have their shoes for a long time.”

On designers he prefers to see his shoes paired with- “I never think of clothing when designing. There are no designers I prefer. I like to be surprised and to see shoes in a different way. I like to see women appropriate themselves to the shoe."

What makes an elegant woman? - “It comes from the heart.”

A word of advice- “ I was lucky to have a passion and work from that. It’s still a passion. I never had a plan, which made me enjoy every moment of the journey. What makes you happy is going to make you successful.”

24 comments:

  1. I have no doubt his shoes are beyond beautiful and elegant but so far I really struggle to find a pair of Louboutins that are truly comfortable. I think Miss Tick hits all the right notes but I wish he brings back more chunky mid heels. They're not as sexy as pencil heels but are far more practical here in Europe where the streets are either cobbled or paved.

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    1. Chocolate Cookies & Candies- Hi Marlene! I've never had a problem with Louboutins being comfortable. Then again, he was very clear (even when asked if he would ever consider designing for different foot types) that he designs & fits on a narrow form with a high arch (dancing will do that to the foot for sure). Personally, I love a beautiful and elegant shoe, but there's nothing beautiful or elegant about not being able to walk or being in pain. I walk everywhere!

      There's something very dated to me about pencil heels. Too thin of a heel just doesn't seem right. I don't like too chunky either.

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    1. s-Yes, it was a fun afternoon. Such charm!

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  3. So glad to see a lovely post from you. the city was hit hard, so i'm glad you are safe- that's most important. I was worried.

    interesting to hear from creatives. I like the way you integrate them iinto the style conversation. Your shoe wardrobe CLs and all is pretty darn amaze.

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    1. Anonymous- Thank you! That's very sweet! Yes, being safe and sound is most important. It's a mess:(

      Yes, I love hearing creative people speak about their passions. It's quite refreshing. Yes, my shoe wardrobe is just about complete;)

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  4. I can see why he wouldn't have to bother to change the form, because I'm sure there are many many women that buy his shoes and never wore them a day in their life.

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    1. Prêt à Porter P- It's all about illusion. As silly as that is.

      Oh yes, there are plenty of women who buy luxury items simply to put on display. I'm not going to lie, i have more than my share of special "museum pieces" but I wear them!

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  5. What an eye-opener! I too cant find a shoe that is comfortable but the ladies always look elegant in those red heels. And I like his word of advice: Indeed what makes you happy/fulfilled is the first step to finding your success.

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    1. Eileen- It was eye opening! There are plenty of designers who don't have much methodology when they design, so it was interesting to see how carefully he considers everything. I also find it fascinating when adults have such creativity and imagination. It's so charming.

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  6. I should admit, I am not crazy about his shoes. I tried on a pair of his flats and the leather was just too hard, murder on my long toes :)
    That said, I have always enjoyed his taste - one of my books on designers and their homes features his place and I love his use of colour. It seems to reflect that joie de vivre which came through in your blog post.
    Besides, you have to hail a shoe-maker who cares about the musicality of his heels. That's just charming.

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    1. Ammu- I hear you my friend! I don't denounce brands, but I was skeptical. I haven't found the leathers to be stiff or hard, but I'm most familiar with the atelier- so you have the ability to select EVERYTHING including the leathers.

      Real estate is his weakness and one addiction. The various homes look amazing- I always enjoy seeing pictures of them. There is such a joie de vivre to the way in which he lives his life and designs. He was adorable and very charming. I liked that for all his charm and imagination, he was fully aware that at the end of the day it's just fashion.

      Love the bit about the musicality of the shoe:) So joyous.

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  7. loved this little q+a and a peek into his design studio. the narrow foot is the size 00 of shoes - i have to say, CLs always look fierce and sexy. i'm still in love with the 4.5" pigalles that the model wore in The Row video...

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    1. miss sophie- Thank you! It's so interesting to see how designers create. Even better when they can articulate it well.

      There is something fierce and sexy about CLs, especially when you see someone who can walk in them. There's no denying it.

      The Row- I'm totally obsessed with the construction of the blazer I purchased.

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  8. Cecilia Teh-Thank you for your lovely comment. I inadvertently deleted it while trying to conserve what little power all my devices had this AM. So sorry! I exactly what you mean about admiring beautiful things from afar.

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  9. I'm now not sure whether a time will ever come that I will experience the allure of the red sole. At this point in my life (sad as it will sound) function trumps form and the price needs to be right also. To buy museum worthy pieces not to be worn seems a little wasteful as fantastical as it would be to have rows and rows of pretty shoes to admire :)

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  11. catssaymeow- I don't think that sounds sad! Function and lifestyle should be taken into consideration first and foremost. It's great when you find items that combine the two.

    I don't think anyone would deny that having unworn garments that are collectors items is a waste. Personally I take a lot of pride in the fact that I wear EVERYTHING in my closet and haven't had to really cull because I only bring in items that I love. When I "cull" it's because I've worn an item to bits beyond repair.

    Big congrats on your house BTW!!! That's a great accomplishment.

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  12. This is incredible, it just made me fall in love with Louboutins a little more (if that were even possible). I never knew there was actually a term for how a shoe sounded. There's been a few times where I've purchased lovely looking shoes only to be too embarrassed to wear them when I discover the squeaky plasticy sounds they make. I can't wait watch this.

    xx Jenee C.
    {camo meets couture}

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    1. Jenee C.- Thank you! It was so incredible and yes it made me have such a different level of appreciation. He was simply adorable. I know exactly what you mean about lovely looking shoes that make that squeaky sound. So awful!

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  13. Hi Lindsay, I know what you mean about the sound of shoes. I think it's the construction of the shoe but also how a woman walks in them. There's nothing more painful than 'hearing' a woman trying to walk in a pair of heels, you can tell just by listening that it'll probably look like a train wreck! I'm looking forward to your post about the tips! xoxox

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    1. Vanisha @ Vanishas Life In...Australia- Hi Vanisha! Hope you had a lovely trip.

      Yes! It is the construction of the shoe and how the wearer walks in them. I know exactly what you mean. I'll never understand buying and wearing shoes that you can't walk in. It just looks more elegant to actually be able to walk. I'll also never really understand the painful sound of someone trying to walk in heels. Years of dance and gymnastics have made me so light on my feet.

      I'm so overdue to do a post on maintenance.

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  14. Awesome pics! And I love the post:)

    http://theprintedsea.blogspot.de/

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    1. Ira Kharchenko- Thank you! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed this post. It truly means a lot to me.

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