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  • MJ

Designer Evolution

Christian Louboutin was born in Paris, France in 1963. Growing up, Louboutin did not have much interest in going to school as he would spend more time sketching shoes than studying. He discovered his passion one day when he took a trip to a museum. He saw a sign specifying that high heel shoes were not allowed there. He was fascinated by the sigh because he had never seen a sign like that before. Not long after he was filling notebooks with sketches of his own shoe designs. Louboutin was inspired by Roger Vivier’s book that was filled with shoe designs. Vivier was a designer who created shoes for Christian Dior during the 1950s. Louboutin was expelled from school when he was twelve years old and ran away to Egypt and India to discover who he was meant to be. When he came back he had a portfolio filled with sketches of heels and a newfound sense of his identity and passion. At age 16 Loubou- tin went to go work at the famous Parisian cabaret Folies-Bergere. While he worked in the dressing rooms he did a variety of jobs including creating shoes. Louboutin was amazed by each woman’s ability to wear giant headdresses and still be able to walk in such high heels without falling. He realized that he had a very strong interest in shoe design.

After sharing his portfolio with all of the major couture houses, Louboutin eventually landed a job with the Charles Jourdan, one of the world’s most respected shoe- makers. Christian Louboutin worked as a freelance designer for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Roger Vivier in the early 1980’s. He was mentored by Vivier and learned the ins and outs of the shoe industry. Louboutin set up his own boutique in Paris in the 1990s, he also made that the location of his headquarters. He created his trademark red outer soles in 1993. He saw his assistant sitting there, painting her nails red. When he saw this he decided to color the soles of his shoes red as a statement for that season. The goal was for the shoes to have a nice flirtatious feel.

It became so popular that his customers asked him not to stop. The shoes were seen as “artistic yet sexy”, and soon Princess Caroline of Monaco was interested in his shoes as well as Madonna who wore them in her music videos. These actions spread the word about Louboutin and his career began to grow. Louboutin’s designs are a worldwide success and he has stores all over the world including his headquarters in Paris. Louboutin sells more than one million pairs of shoes each year. A typical pair of his luxury shoes will have a stiletto heel and upperparts with colored leather. The red soles on each pair of shoes have represented a status symbol and are known by people all around the world. Red has become more than just a color for Louboutin’s brand, to him “it is a symbol of love, of blood, of passion.”

The cost per pair can range from $400 to $6,000. Christian Louboutin has not only created women’s shoes, but he has also worked to expand his brand by creating handbags back in 2003. He also launched a line of men’s shoes back in 2012 and has also introduced his very own line of nail polish, lipstick, and fragrances. In 2008 at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, an exhibition was created in honor of Louboutin’s creations, it has been named “Sole Desire: The Shoes of Christian Louboutin.”

Early Shoe Collections: (Top Left: 1993, Top Right: 1993, Bottom Left: 1995, Bottom Right: 2007)

Current Shoe Collection: Spring/Summer 2o2o

I think what has influenced the change in the styles of collections is the changing environment in the fashion industry. Certain styles and designs come and go and back then Louboutins were much more of a rounded or flat point toe, but now a majority of them are extremely pointy. The role of trend has a big impact on a designers work and evolution because styles constantly change and are updated. Sometimes certain trends are more popular than other and they come in waves so it is the designer's job to stick with the trends and what the consumer wants so the products will be purchased. Flat pointed shoes were obviously more on-trend during that time so it made sense for him to design shoes that looked that way. Now very pointy shoes are definitely on trend because they have a very streamlined look, so Louboutin has created tons of shoes with that style.

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