French shoe designer Christian Louboutin was in London on April 30 to open a museum exhibition marking his brand’s 20th anniversary. He spoke to reporters about his inspirations and his rise to global success.
The retrospective exhibition at London’s Design Museum traces Louboutin’s rise from a teenager fascinated by the feathered costumes of Paris’s cabaret showgirls to his stints at YSL and Chanel to setting up his first boutique in 1991.
Louboutin shoes are one of the world’s most recognizable fashion items, and have been worn by celebrities from Angelina Jolie to French first lady Carla Bruni. The most popular style is five inches high.
‘Shoes are objects of pleasure,’ Louboutin said – though his high heels are famously uncomfortable to wear. ’I am not against comfort, but I don’t like the idea that my shoes are evocative of comfort,’ he said. By putting a foot in a heel, ‘you are putting yourself in a possibly orgasmic situation,’ Louboutin once said.
But he wouldn’t go so far as to endorse foot surgery – nicknamed ‘Loub-jobs’ after his shoes – that aims to ease the pain of wearing high heels. ‘Frankly, it’s probably not a good idea,’ he said.
Louboutin considers Kate Moss to be his English style icon, but said Queen Elizabeth II would be an interesting and challenging customer.
‘She’s a woman, she’s a queen, she’s a full concept,’ he said. ‘She is such a symbol.’
While speaking to press, the French shoe designer also passionately defended his court battle to protect his famous glossy red-soled shoes. The designer argued that his rivals are wrong to accuse him of trying to monopolize the colour red.
‘What PPR does via Yves Saint Laurent is breaking my trademark, which I find incredibly offensive,’ Louboutin said.
Louboutin’s lawyers have compared his shoe trademark to a similar one held by Tiffany & Co. for blue boxes – sparking a wider debate on whether a designer can own a colour.
The designer talks about comfort, inspiration and his trademark red soles at the opening of a show at the Design Museum in London