The Fashion Folk S01 ep11 : Christian Louboutin, Louboutin Fashion, [Paris]
Interview with Christian Louboutin
I wanted to design shoes for the showgirls in Paris. At the beginning they are a classical dancers so they have the breast in "peal" - meaning not round but small with nipples pointing upwards , a tiny waist , the arse of a dancer and they are quite short in general. The reality of a showgirl in France is a "bird parade" - women dressed to resemble beautiful exotic birds.
When I was in my teens, my parents would send me to a place which is called
the Museum of South Africa here in Paris. When you would arrive, because of
the floors, which are different types of mosaics, you would have a little drawing
of high spiky high heels shoes and it was crossed by red because it was
forbidden to wear high heels. And I was looking at this drawing, thinking it
looks like a woman’s shoe but why high spiky heels?
I was sort of obsessed by this shoe let’s say. I would always design this shoe
with different ideas but always with the heel in profile, high heel and because of
this, I started to have people looking at me like I was this mad shoe guy.
They were giving me information about shoes and so it was funny because I
couldn’t care less about shoes at the very beginning, until the moment when
some nice guy gave me a book about shoes which was an exhibition of a shoe
designer called Roger Vivier from the 30’s till the 70’s.
KD – The master…
The book. So I looked at them and I thought, my God it can even be a real job.
I never even thought about that.
KD – How old were you when you saw this book?
As I was really interested in showgirls, I wanted to design shoes for the
showgirls in Paris. I always loved musicals, cabaret and if you want to design
something for showgirls; I mean a showgirl is basically a naked woman with
furs or shoes so you either design the furs or the shoes. I arrived there, and all
those girls were very nice, and also they were very flattered, that a young boy
arrived and had drawings just about them.
At the beginning they are a classical dancer so they have the breast in "peal" -
meaning not round but small with nipples pointing upwards, a tiny waist , the
arse of a dancer and they are quite short in general.
The showgirl is really about the glory of a woman, not the glory of a child, not
the glory of a young girl, but the glory of a woman.
So it is a shape of a woman, a beautiful shape of a woman in her early 30’s.
The reality of a showgirl in France is a "bird parade" - women dressed to
resemble beautiful, exotic birds.
I had a lot of fun, and many of my experiences came from there, because for a
showgirl, shoes are a very important item. A shoe is like a weapon to them.
The shoe carries a woman. It has to be made well, it has to have very good
balance, it has to marry to the arch very well, it has to show the maximum of
leg, it has to extend them, it has to camber them.
It accentuates the breast because a women cambers on a good shoe. It is a
So I decided to call Maison du Couture: I just looked at the name and there
was the name of a woman called Elaine DuMontemare, and she received me.
She had just come back from a trip to Charles Jordan. Charles Jordan was
designing the shoes for Dior, fabricating for her.
She looked at my drawings and said, "That is so funny because it looks so
much like what I saw at Jordan and the Perugia shoes. I am going to call them
and ask that you stay for a few months".
I work there for over a year. I learnt how to do the patronage, the pattern
making, the modelling. How to do it here, how to shape it there, all the
Everything that has been constructed after the 60’s is really different, because
the foot of a woman has expanded so much, that the last and the size of the
shoes in the 30’s are similar to a child’s size of today.
The technique must be at the service of the imagination and not the opposite.
The problem with the big technicians is that if you start with the technique is
that you put all your imagination in improving the technical aspect, it has
nothing to do with design, it doesn’t touch people. If a woman looks at a shoe
in a shop and she wants to buy it, she is longing to have it, she desires it. It is
not because there is one screw in the heel.
When I am designing, inspiration can come from this carpet, it can come from
anywhere, but it is not coming from fashion. The following of fashion does not
interest me because there is at any moment a whole magma of people trying
to do the same thing, trying to understand what is the next thing.
So it’s like a recipe. Before it was gold, now it will be silver. It was pointy, now
it is going to be round. It shouldn’t be so predictable. I am not thinking in those
KD – How do you see yourself?
I think of myself as the person who is able to reproduce faithfully the design of
something a women will desire.
I did different things. I worked in Italy. I worked in Naples. I worked in Italy for
KD – What was Italy like, compared to France?
They are so quick. You know they look at a thing and they say O.K. and boom
and they do a prototype.
KD – So they have got a feeling for shoes?
Of course, definitely. Especially for the type of shoes I always like - feminine
I travelled a lot actually and I was not so focused on my work. I did a job and
then left for 3 months in India. Did another job.
KD – In India?
Yes, I love India, I love Indian cinema, Indian customs, Indian jewels. I love
India in general. Music everything.
At one point I was employed by the museum of La Mode, to take care of the
Roger Vivier exhibition. I had met him before two or three times, but I was too
under shock to be able to say more than three words and also he was totally
deaf. You know there is problem when someone has trouble speaking and
someone is deaf anyway. And so we worked together in 1988 for the
preparation of his exhibition and at this point we became very close.
KD – What was he like?
He was adorable. He was the perfection of French Elegance.
KD – And his design?
Wonderful. You know he was a sculptor. Roger was able to sketch just what
you needed and no more. He was able to do the most complicated,
sophisticated, elaborate hypercolored shoe and he was able of the opposite. I
never worked for him as his assistant, I was his driver, I was his secretary, I
was his translator, I was his cook, I was his messenger, I was his toy,
anything, but I was never his assistance in the terms of that I never drew for
KD – How do you get inspired? Where does it all come from?
Everywhere, it really depends. You find a nail in the street and it becomes a
very good shoe. I never stop looking for inspiration and ideas. Your eye is
almost always on alert.
Shoes for women, are like an extension of themselves. They don’t even clean
the shoes, they don’t care. They just love to have shoes, and they are crazy
about shoes. But they are not fantasizing about shoes. It is the men who
fantasize about women’s shoes.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christian Louboutin, Louboutin Fashion, Paris