When I called Christian Louboutin, he was in the midst of watching his home country, France, play Mexico in the World Cup.
“Would you mind calling me back in 30 minutes? The game is almost over,” he asked with an air of distraction. France lost the game. But was Louboutin heartbroken? Hardly.
“I was betting for Mexico! I was just there. I like that country very much. They have a young crowd, a young team and they’re not pretentious. I’m very happy that they won,” he said over the phone from Italy where he was visiting his shoe factory.
Like his football preferences, Louboutin gravitates toward the unexpected in life. His incredibly sexy heels, which have placed him firmly at the top of the designer shoe food chain, above even Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik, are a testament to that.
What are your earliest memories of fashion?
I was 12. I was in Cannes on holiday with a friend and we happened upon the film festival by accident. We saw a woman being photographed by all these people. She was wearing a long dress in the middle of the day. Her hair was in a chignon. I had never seen anything like this attitude. It was a very fashion moment.
What about your earliest memories of women’s shoes?
I was often with my youngest sister, who was 12 years older than I. She was walking up the stairs in front of me. She was wearing cork platforms and I was fascinated by how she could walk in those platforms up six flights of stairs. And I remember seeing the cabaret. It influenced my with showgirls. I didn’t know fashion at 12, but I knew wanted to design for those showgirls.
Speaking of showgirls, you did a musical film short for the website FashionAir not so long ago. Is there a part of you that would like to be a dancer?
I’ve always liked to dance. When I was at a club, I was very much the actor. I was never the spectator. I really like the people at FashionAir, so I agreed to do the short. But it was really painful to watch. I was too self-conscious. And my pants were way up the ass thanks to the suspenders I was wearing.
Your shoes are arguably fashion’s most coveted. Can you pinpoint a turning point in your career?
It wasn’t necessarily a shift, per se, but I think that September 11th was a big moment for my company. That was 10 years from the year that I started my company in 1991. I had survived after 10 years.
Your shoes epitomize sex for many people. What symbolizes sex to you?
The voice is very sexy. And cleverness is very sexy. Sometimes people can look very sexy on the outside and be stupid intellectually. People who are incredibly flirtatious have to be funny and smart.
It’s the difference between eroticism and pornography. The difference is what lies between the lines. I do like suggestions. Suggestions instead of pure show. Think about low cleavage, about how it draws the eyes to the breast.
It is the same with shoes. I’ve had a lot of women tell me that it’s too much to show toe cleavage in a shoe. They say it’s too embarrassing. But I’m like, “You wear sandals where your toes are completely exposed.” And they say, “But it’s different.” I agree. It is different. It’s the difference between suggestion and showing everything.
Are there any shoes that you absolutely hate the sound of?
Clogs. I would banish them from the earth if I could. I just don’t think it’s a pretty sound when you hear women walk in them. It’s really wooden, not nice.