Christian Louboutin (born January 7, 1964) is a footwear designer who launched his line of high-end women’s shoes in France in 1991.
Since 1992, his designs have incorporated the shiny, red-lacquered soles that have become his signature. On March 27, 2007, Louboutin filed an application for U.S. trademark protection of this red sole design.
As a child, Louboutin would regularly sneak out of school, from the age of 12, to watch the showgirls at Paris nightclubs, because he was fascinated by their costumes. He cites this as his main inspiration for becoming a shoe designer:
“The showgirls influenced me a lot. If you like high heels, it’s really the ultimate high heel – it’s all about the legs, how they carry themselves, the embellishment of the body. They are the ultimate icons.”
Although Louboutin faced much opposition following his decision to leave school so early, he claims that his resolve was strengthened after watching an interview on TV with Sophia Loren in which she introduced her sister, saying she had to leave school when she was only 12 but when she turned 50 she got her degree.
“Everybody applauded! And I thought, ‘Well, at least if I regret it I’m going to be like the sister of Sophia Loren!”
Louboutin helped bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s, designing dozens of styles with heel heights of 120mm (4.72 inches) and higher.
The designer’s professed goal is to “make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as [he] can.” While he does offer some lower-heeled styles, Louboutin is generally associated with his dressier eveningwear designs incorporating bejeweled straps, bows, feathers, patent leather and other, similar decorative touches.
In his U.S. trademark application, Louboutin explains the inception of the signature red soles:
“In 1992 I incorporated the red sole into the design of my shoes. This happened by accident as I felt that the shoes lacked energy so I applied red nail polish to the sole of a shoe. This was such a success that it became a permanent fixture.”
Louboutin received inspiration for his lethal-looking stilettos from an incident that occurred in his early 20s. He had visited a museum and noticed that there was a sign forbidding women wearing sharp stilettos from entering for fear of damage to the extensive wood flooring. This image stayed in his mind, and he later used this idea in his designs:
“I wanted to defy that. I wanted to create something that broke rules and made women feel confident and empowered.”
Louboutin has topped The Luxury Institute’s annual Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) for three years; the brand’s offerings were declared the Most Prestigious Women’s Shoes in 2007, 2008, and 2009.