Sunday Times Louboutin interview 11/22/09

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Mostly Harmless
Nov 19, 2007
Has this been posted here already?
(Mods, I didn't see anything in a forum search of The Glass Slipper or Up to the Minute)

From The Sunday Times November 22, 2009

Christian Louboutin: sole man

The shoe designer talks high heels, dressing Barbie and the perils of cankles

div#related-article-links p a, div#related-article-links p a:visited { color:#06c; } Daphne Guinness, the fashion muse, couture collector and extreme-shoe addict, used to buy her signature 6in heels in sex shops before discovering him. Christina Aguilera owns more than 300 pairs and displays them on floor-to-ceiling shelves in her Los Angeles home. Over at his Motcomb Street store, one client buys doubles of each design — one pair to wear and one simply to look at.
The man responsible for such adoration and obsession is Christian Louboutin. A short, 45-year-old Frenchman, he creates the most desired shoes in the world — if you are wondering what to buy the woman in your life this year, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Louboutins. Today, he is dressed casually in a chunky knit and Tom Ford slacks, with a fresh pair of Adidas on his feet. He pushes a pair of thigh-high boots off the sofa in his chaotic showroom before sitting down. “Of course I am chaotic, I am French,” he explains, before adding, “but I know my own mess.”
Even the fashion illiterate recognise Louboutin’s signature red soles (conceived by accident after he idly painted the bottom of a prototype with his assistant’s scarlet nail polish), and even if they don’t know his name, instinctively they get what that provocative flash of colour is all about: Louboutin deals in seduction. “I prefer shoes that undress to shoes that dress,” he states. “A successful shoe is a shoe that accentuates nudity. The woman remains entirely nude when she wears those shoes. The shoe becomes the privilege of nudity.”
For the past 17 years, the patent red soles of the Louboutin brand have been coveted by women from all walks of life, from Hollywood stars to footballers’ wives, from politicians to prostitutes. “There’s the sexy side, and then there is the Parisian side, which is complementary but also the opposite. If you are very chic you might not need an extra drop of chicness, so you go for the sexy side and buy my shoes because they are...” — Louboutin grasps around for the right word — “tarty. We get very smart women coming in and buying a pair to feel a little more sluttish. And then, thank God,” he exclaims, “we also get the hookers coming in the store, who buy my shoes because they are superchic. You see, whatever you have, if you add a drop of the opposite, then it just becomes a little more sexy.”
An only son, with four older sisters, and raised in “basically what was a harem”, the fascination with all things glamorous started at an early age. “Women change when there are men about,” he says, “but when you are only a boy, they just act as they would naturally. I have been dealing with women since the age zero.” Inspired by the stars of Hollywood films from the 1920s and 1930s (“I was a snob — I would only watch films if everyone in them was dead,”), he left school at 15 to work as “an intern in the Folies Bergère. You know, they had to go down the stairs, and it’s not easy to do when you have 25kg of feathers on your head and heels, and you’re concentrating on your attitude. You cannot be looking like you’re in pain. The showgirls are really the best person to learn you about shoes”. He came to understand the value of comfort after the Folies dancers sent him out to buy veal carpaccio, which they used to pad their shoes.
These days, the raw meat is out. “I have technical secrets to make them easy to walk in. I would hate, hate, hate people to think that my shoes looked comfortable, but they have to be easy to wear,” he says, brown puppy eyes filling with concern. “There’s that saying, that one has to suffer to be beautiful, and it’s not true, you don’t. If you really suffer, it shows on your face — you get wrinkles, and a bad posture.”
This season, his stores are filled with saucy thigh-highs, wild*animal-print ankle boots, ball-breaking skyscrapers, neat kitten heels and studded ballet pumps. “There’s not one typical Louboutin woman,” he says. In his world, “cankles” are a crime. “The thing that really restricts me is not fabrication; it’s the ankle.
You can do a design, and it looks good on paper — then when you put it on it makes your legs look fat.” He draws a slender ankle in the air as a demonstration. “I made some quilted boots once. They looked great, and then, when you put them on the model, they looked awful: fat ankles.
Even Barbie had to have her ankles slimmed for me,” says the designer, who has just collaborated on a limited-edition version of the iconic doll. He insisted she be made with skinnier ankles and a higher arch — all the better to show off his killer heels. I ask him if they are women’s shoes for girls, or girl’s shoes for women. He smiles and says: “She’s a woman who is also a girl, and a girl who is a woman. She’s just really sexy.”
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