Highlights of an illustrious career shod in red-soled shoes…
LOUBOUTIN OPENS FIRST BOUTIQUE IN PARIS’ 1ST ARRONDISSEMENT
The iconic French designer’s knack for designing fanciful footwear stretches all the way back to the mid-’70s, when a visit to France’s National Museum of Arts of Africa and Oceania inspired the then- teenage Louboutin to create stilettos that empowered women. After stints in Egypt and India, he worked for brands like Roger Vivier, Chanel, and Yves Saint Laurent throughout the ‘80s. But the year 1991 would prove monumental: it was when he officially formed his eponymous label and opened the doors to his very first boutique in Paris at 19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The space was christened by Princess Caroline of Monaco.
1992 — THE ICONIC RED SOLE IS CONCEIVED
A year after opening his first salon, Louboutin’s calling card – yes, the famous red sole – was born. Frustrated by the lack of similarity between his initial sketches and the final products, the designer acted on a whim, grabbing his assistant’s bottle of red nail polish and painting the black soles with the colorful, glossy lacquer. This would prove to be a revolutionary concept, as his heels became instantly recognizable and enticingly unique. Louboutin would eventually trademark his signature red soles in 2012.
2004 — CARRIE BRADSHAW PUTS LOUBOUTIN ON THE MAINSTREAM MAP
It didn’t take long for Louboutin to rack up an A-list clientele (Catherine Deneuve and Diane von Fürstenberg were among his earliest fans), but the designer’s foray into popular culture happened around the mid-Noughties, when Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw stylishly paraded around Manhattan – and our television screens – in his stilettos for three whole seasons. With the help of Patricia Field, the show’s notoriously eccentric costume designer, Bradshaw had a hand in catapulting him to mainstream status (while famously making a case for sporting mismatched Louboutin heels).
2006 — LOUBOUTIN BRANCHES OUT INTO HANDBAGS
After focusing solely on women’s shoes for a decade and a half, Louboutin branched out into women’s handbags and leather goods in 2006. Lined with luxe red fabric, they mirrored his trademark aesthetic, and today – like his men’s shoes, fragrances, nail lacquers, and lipsticks – Louboutin’s purses remain a cornerstone of the brand.
2009 — A MEN’S COLLECTION IS BORN, THANKS TO A STAR
Prior to launching a proper, fully fledged men’s footwear line in 2009, Louboutin had designed shoes for himself and male friends. His inaugural men’s collection came at the behest of English singer- songwriter Mika, who asked Louboutin to design his shoes for an upcoming tour. Creating flashy stage shoes for an entertainer came naturally to Louboutin; he designed more than were necessary and sold the remainder at his stores. The rest, as they say, is history.
2011 — A CHILDHOOD DREAM IS FULFILLED
Louboutin’s unequivocal love affair with Bhutan long predates his eponymous label. Twenty-five years after a failed attempt (visa issues) to enter the Eastern Himalayan country during a trip to India at 18, the designer successfully fulfilled his dream of visiting in 2011. Since then, Louboutin has found inspiration in the country’s vibrancy, craftsmanship, architecture, and rich traditions.
2012 — LOUBOUTIN TURNS 20 IN LONDON
A retrospective dedicated to Louboutin’s fairytale-like creations opens up at London’s Design Museum in 2012. Aptly titled Christian Louboutin, the exhibit explored two decades’ worth of his career and featured some of his most iconicpairs of heels, his initial sketches and prototypes, his references, and groundbreaking collaborations, all of which were sourced from the French designer’s vast personal archive. This was Louboutin’s very first exhibition in the UK.
2014 — NAIL POLISH RETURNS
Considering nail polish was central to the formation of Louboutin’s brand ethos, it was only a matter of time before the designer launched his very own line of lacquers. Much like his shoes, the glass bottles were spiky and decorative, and the range naturally included his signature punchy red, affectionately dubbed ‘Rouge Louboutin’. Christian Louboutin Beauté was released exclusively through Saks by way of an extravagant window display called ‘Loubiville’. Eventually, the products were sold at other big-name retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Sephora.
2016 — BEYONCÉ GETS IN FORMATION WITH LOUBOUTIN
Already a household name and a favorite among celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian West, Madonna, Britney Spears, and Sarah Jessica Parker, Louboutin was the buzz of the internet during the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show in 2016, when Beyoncé marched the field in his Country Crochet boots from his Fall 2016 range. Paired with a military-inspired DSquared2 get-up and fishnet tights, the Formation singer’s red-soled booties sold out almost immediately on Net-a-Porter.
2019 — F.I.T. HONORS LOUBOUTIN
In September of this year, Louboutin was chosen as the recipient of the esteemed Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion by the New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). He also received an honorary degree from the school in 2014. “Christian Louboutin is a brilliant designer whose shoes are made with exquisite craftsmanship,” FIT president Joyce Brown said. Louboutin was handpicked by a committee that included museum director Valerie Steele, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, and fashion critic Suzy Menkes, and the award coincided with FIT’s Paris, Capital of Fashion exhibit, which featured a made-to-order pair by Louboutin.
A MAJOR RETROSPECTIVE HITS HIS NATIVE PARIS
Beginning in February of next year, Paris’ Palais de la Porte Dorée – a historical institution located close to Louboutin’s birthplace – will unveil a major retrospective ever dedicated to the designer. With never-before-seen shoes and artist collaborations involving the likes of David Lynch, Whitaker Malem, Blanca Li, and Imran Qureshi, the as-yet-untitled exhibit will be an amalgamation of pieces from his personal archives and loans from public collections, making for a fascinating glimpse into Louboutin’s decadent, no-holds-barred sartorial vision.
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