As a 12-year-old child Christian Louboutin loved to sketch women’s shoes. “I drew stilettos, but I never thought designing them could be a career. I just loved drawing shoes, fascinated by their power of seduction and their ability to shape a silhouette”.
Christian Louboutin creates shoes, bags and accessories for all genders, as well as a beauty range that includes makeup and fragrance. Worn by musicians and movie stars, royalty and athletes, the designs share a luxurious aesthetic of exoticism, of Parisian chic and a unique craftmanship.
Parisian by birth, surrounded by three sisters, Christian grew up with an innate understanding of the female world. By his early teens he was out clubbing at the iconic Le Palace and watching shows at the Folies Bergères and Moulin Rouge. Fascinated by showgirls, he started his working life as an intern at the Folies Bergères. Christian became obsessed with the role of the shoe in defining a silhouette. “The shoe can change the way a woman walks, the way she moves, it can elongate the leg. The shoe can create magic, illusion, desire, and these are all things that I love.”
While he was still there, Christian called up Hélène de Mortemart, Christian Dior’s fashion director, to present his drawings to her. They met, and she suggested an internship at Charles Jourdan, Dior shoes’ manufacturer, where he spent a very instructive time “I learned my trade. It was no fantasyland, it was like toughland. I was smelling glue and I loved that.”. Then he became personal assistant to the illustrious shoe designer Roger Vivier, who was a sculptor by training, and who showed him the magical symbiosis of exceptional design and craftsmanship.
His collaboration with Vivier done, he decided he could not anymore sketch shoes for anyone else. Christian worked as a landscape designer when a lucky encounter led him to rent a boutique at the corner of Galerie Vérot Dodat, a beautiful neoclassical arcade in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.
He took a chance on destiny, simultaneously opening his first boutique and the House of Christian Louboutin at the end of 1991. His first design was a pair of black loafers bearing the word LOVE, inspired by the image of Princess Diana alone at the Taj Mahal and intended so that the wearer could look down and be uplifted by a message of love. Within two months, Princess Caroline de Monaco became his client and one of his loyal supporters. In 1992 came the creative flash every designer can dream of. Christian was working at his desk, contemplating an unsatisfactory prototype of a shoe. While his assistant polished her nails; Christian grabbed her bottle of nail colour and painted the whole sole a vivid and lacquered red. He loved what he saw. The Christian Louboutin signature red sole was born.
This one gesture says so much about Christian and his house. Today, Christian Louboutin is an independent luxury house which allows him to remain spontaneous, instinctive and free to create. Everything evolves through chance, encounters and “le bon feeling” and travels, all of which have given rise to exciting collaborations. Christian has worked with craftspeople in Bhutan, Senegal, Mexico, with artists such as Dita von Teese, photographer David Lynch and singer Mika which unleashed to his very first men collection in 2009.
An insatiable traveller, Christian has houses in Paris, La Vendée, Portugal, Brazil and Egypt, where he also keeps a dahabiya, a traditional sailing boat. All his travels feed his imagination and inspire his creativity. “Wherever I go there’s always a garden to see, a museum, a church, a market, a concert, a piece of architecture – even in places that seem devoid of interest. I try to look where others don’t. Joy, awareness and surprise – to me that’s the perfect combination for creating.”
In 2020, Christian Louboutin opens L’Exhibition[niste] at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris, an exhibition dedicated to his inspirations and his collaborations with many artists. Imagined as an itinerant exhibition, he will open L’Exhibition[niste] Chapter II, in 2022 at Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
1963 Christian Louboutin is born in Paris
1991 Christian Louboutin opens his house and his first boutique in the Galerie Vero Dodat, Paris 1er
1993 The Red sole is born when Christian paints the sole of a prototype with his assistant’s red nail polish grabbed from her desk
2006 Launch of the Christian Louboutin bags & accessories collection
2007 Fetish exhibition with David Lynch at the Galerie du Passage, Paris
2009 Launch of the men’s shoes collection
2011 Opening of first menswear boutique on the rue Jean Jacques Rousseau
2012 Christian Louboutin: 20 Years exhibition at the Design Museum in London
2012 Feu show, collaboration with David Lynch at the Crazy Horse
2014 Christian Louboutin launches Christian Louboutin Beauté launching the first nail colour
2016 Christian Louboutin launches his first fragrances Bikini Questa Sera, Tornade Blonde and Trouble in Heaven
2018 The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered a decision strengthening the protection of the red sole trademark.
2020 Christian Louboutin unveils his first major exhibition in Paris at le Palais de la Porte Dorée : L’Exhibition[niste].
2021 Christian Louboutin and Exor announce a partnership to accelerate the next phase of the Company’s development.
2022 L’Exhibition[niste] travels to Monaco for a Chapter II