Some see natural beauty as something to dab a little concealer on, while others see it as an unsightly blank canvas to smother in makeup and magnificent shoes. Christian Louboutin and his lacquered red soles fall into the latter category, and he makes no apologies for it.
Yet, while any other guy telling us to go put on some mascara and swap our Toms for six-inch stilettos would be met with a swift kick in the – ah, shins – Louboutin is one of fashion’s darlings. In WWD Executive Editor Bridget Foley’s latest diary entry she toured the entirety of Louboutin’s blingy new 1,600-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue store, before speaking to the man himself about his love of shoes, his aversion to photography, and his hatred of your natural beauty look.
Here are the seven things that made us most unsure whether we wanted to punch the designer, or give him a hug.
1. He’s fiercely loyal, and wants you to be too:
“I’m someone who always thinks — when it’s about my design, when it’s about my friendship, my love, et cetera — definitely long-term. I’m quite obsessed with long-term. In the company, if I have to hire someone, and now Alexis knows, if the person has been [at other places] six months and then three months and then six months, it will never happen. One of the first things that I’m watching for on the CVs is the sort of person who has been in place for a long time.”
2. He likes his metaphors as elaborate as his shoes:
“I realized that a lot of people I didn’t know had been supportive of my case [against YSL]. And the funny thing is that there had been this David against Goliath, you know? And a lot of people were supportive…I just had a lot of energy coming from people telling me I was a role model. I took it seriously, thinking, ‘Well, if I represent freedom, I can’t let freedom…’ It’s almost a war like democracy versus totalitarianism.”
3. Or maybe he just likes the idea of democracy:
“…there is something quite democratic in shoes. If you don’t like your body, you feel you are too fat or whatever, you can still like your feet, so you still have attention to your shoes…If you think about it, a skinny foot is considered beautiful, but a plumpy foot is also very, very charming. It’s one part of the body that can be charming in a lot of the aspects and in a lot of shapes.”
4. He designs his shoes for men (sort of):
“I never forget that shoes also have to please men. As a man, I totally understand looking at a girl and saying, ‘Darling, we’re having dinner together tonight, so do you mind to change?’ I understand that type of mentality from a man who loves his wife, his woman. He’s concerned about the way you look. It’s not an ugly thing. I understand also that a woman could not care. I like my design to please women, but also to please to men. I don’t like the kind of design that men are like, ‘Oh, God.’ I just don’t like that.”
5. He never thinks of clothes when designing:
“I do like fashion, but when I’m designing, I never think of clothes. The object of the shoe, for me, is it. I can imagine that some heels don’t look good with fluffy skirts, et cetera. But it’s not a natural instinct to think clothes. When I draw, the girl is naked always. I never put in an element of clothing.”
6. He doesn’t take photographs and stores things in his memory:
“When I first did the red sole, it was by a shoe called pensee. I thought of one of Andy Warhol’s paintings… I thought of that painting but I never looked at it. When I was happy with the shoes, I looked at the painting. I thought that it was three petals outlined with a dark color, et cetera, and when I looked at the painting it had four petals. There was no outline. It was dark on the back and there is not a center. Still, it’s my interpretation of Andy Warhol’s one painting. What I’m trying to say is that in my process, I’m influenced by a lot of things but I don’t document things. I store a lot of things in my memory. It comes out the way it comes out.”
7. He is definitely not a fan of your au naturel look:
“Being natural is like being unsophisticated. I do think you can be naturally sophisticated. Just like you can be naturally smart. There is something that’s ingrained in people. You can be naturally someone who likes to be delicate. It’s not because you have been taught that way. Naturally, some people are more sophisticated. ‘Natural’ shouldn’t be no makeup, roots, being in a pajama all year long. Thank God, culture has elevated people more than that. That’s why I’ve always loved makeup.”