The enduring allure of Louboutin’s red soles


When it comes to shoes, there are few more iconic or more aspirational signifiers than Christian Louboutin’s red soles.

In the 30 years since its inception, the brand has perhaps done more than any other to transform a piece of footwear into an objet d’art. -The design of his heel was intended to accentuate the curvature of the foot, the shimmer of the red sole almost a mischievous wink as the wearer walked away.

Worn by the showgirls of the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris and on the catwalks of high-end fashion houses, Pamela Anderson, Lady Gaga and Blake Lively are among Louboutin’s many celebrity fans.

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Model Kate Moss, seen here in 2011, has a style of Louboutin shoe named after her, the “So Kate” which has a sharp toe and “nail thin” heel.

Supermodel Kate Moss told British Vogue in 2014, “My wardrobe is filled with Louboutins – the classic black pigtail stiletto in patent or matte black leather is my favorite shoe.” Pointed toes and a nail-thin heel, which I named ‘So Kate.'”

“Lubis” have also appeared in countless television series and films – Carrie Bradshaw wore a matching pair while vacationing in Los Angeles during an episode of “Sex and the City,” while the 2011 film Miss Piggy wore one for A custom pair was designed. “the Muppets.” Taylor Swift wore crystal-studded versions on her Erez tour and Beyoncé wore the red-soled shoes at Coachella. The brand has also received praise from Cardi B in her chart-topping single “Bodak Yellow”.

Footwear News, “I call Mr. Louboutin the greatest showman of footwear.” style director Shannon Adducci tells CNN Style. “For fans, the red sole is the height of glamour.”

The origin story of the Red Soles is the stuff of fashion folklore: In 1993, two years after starting his independent business, Louboutin designed a shoe collection inspired by Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” lithographs. The prototype returned with a floral motif on a pink stacked heel, but the design did not “pop” as Louboutin had hoped. After watching her assistant paint her nails, the designer had an “aha” moment and took red nail varnish to paint the soles.

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Miss Piggy in her Louboutins on the set of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” in 2011.

“The color red represents love, passion and life,” Louboutin told CNN Style via email. “It is strong, noticeable, powerful and is known to attract good fortune.”

The Louboutin aesthetic is both decadent and daring – part Marie Antoinette and part femme fatale. Handmade in Italy, the brand’s shoes are made not only of leather, but also use velvet studded with crystals, feathers and even silver strands (similar to rhinestones).

But they are not for the faint of heart. Although they may be highly crafted, they also tend to cost a lot, ranging from about $350 for a pair of Louboutin rubber flip flops to nearly $4,000 for thigh-high metallic leather boots. All come with red sun.

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Actor Zendaya in a pair of sky high Louboutins at the Paris Couture Show in 2019. Shoes are a celebrity favourite.

They are also vertical with pumps rising to a heel height of 120 mm (4.7 in) for the highly acclaimed but extremely difficult to walk style, the “So Kate”. On platforms, heels rise still higher – the “Maria Frau Alta” measures 160 mm (6.5 in).

“A good shoe is a shoe that makes you feel good, look good, feel confident, engaged and fierce,” Louboutin told CNN. “A good shoe is one that makes you happy both when you think about it and when you wear it. They change your body language and attitude. They lift you up physically and emotionally. Just like the glass slipper (from Cinderella) makes people dream, I try to create the same effect with my shoes, so that you can play the character you dream of becoming.”

Just don’t expect them to always be comfortable.

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Taylor Swift has had some custom sparkly Louboutin shoes made for her Eras tour.

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Beyoncé also chose a pair of custom fringed Louboutin shoes to wear on stage during her recent Renaissance tour.

In an interview with British Vogue in 2012, Louboutin said: “People say I’m the king of painful shoes. I don’t want to make painful shoes, but it’s not my job to make something comfortable. “I try to make high heels as comfortable as possible. I try to, but my priority is design, beauty and sensuality.”

However, Louboutin has proven that they play a strong game and are here for the long term, even weathering the pandemic of the global loungewear and sandal era. Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the brand told CNN that: “The popularity of heels remained strong during and after the lockdown period,” acknowledging that “the pandemic has led to a huge influx of heel styles reflecting lifestyle changes.” Has created an appetite for the series.” And trends (including) platforms, lows and block heels.”

In recent years, the brand has expanded its offering of flats and trainers with a Louboutin twist. Sneakers range from beautiful white tennis shoes with red trim and soles to statement-making chunky leather lug sole treads with stud detailing.

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The red sole is a true red carpet staple. Rihanna chose a pair to wear to the 2019 “Camp” themed Met Gala.

But flats aren’t the only diversification for a brand known for its heels. As well as handbags, children’s shoes and pet accessories, the house now has a beauty division that includes nail varnishes, lipsticks and fragrances, which reference both the red soles and Louboutin’s signature pencil-thin heel silhouette. . With a price tag of $60 for a single lipstick, it’s still a luxury price point, but it brings a piece of the Louboutin magic a little more within reach.

In 2011, men’s shoes also came to the fore rapidly, giving red-soled shoes to an entirely new (but still economically well-heeled) demographic. From calfskin moccasins with tassel detailing or trompe l’oeil embroidery to slip-on Venice-style loafers covered in tartan or spikes, the designs were so successful that in 2012, Christian Louboutin opened his first men’s store in Paris. The collection now includes leopard print ankle boots with 70 mm block heels, lug sole sneakers decorated with spikes and patent lace-ups with rhinestone heels.

Adducci said, “He brought glamor to men’s shoes and made it OK to make a statement and show off a little.”

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King Charles III talks with Christian Louboutin and actor Kristin Scott Thomas at a garden party in London in 2023.

Be it men or women, it’s the soles that clearly separate Louboutin from the herd. So when shoes start to lose their distinctive color – which happens with wear – the brand may step in. Louboutin has company-approved cobblers allowed to restore the shoes to their former glory using the house’s tight security and highly guarded signature shade – Pantone 18, also known as “Chinese Red”.

Perhaps naturally with something so successful, in fact, the brand has worked hard to protect itself from other companies trying to profit from its red magic touch. The soles have become so integral to the brand’s DNA that, in 2008, the fashion house applied for—and was granted—a trademark for their red soles by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Since this trademarking, Louboutin has been involved in a number of complex trademark infringement court cases around the world, involving brands as diverse as high street retailer Zara and affordable Dutch shoe brand Van Haren to luxury French fashion house YSL – with mixed results. with.

One thing’s for sure, Louboutin fans are loyal to the brand – even, apparently, famously. Burlesque queen Dita Von Teese told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, “I once turned down a well-paid advertising campaign for a major luxury shoe brand because of so much loyalty to[Christian]as both a designer and a friend. Is.” “He’s the best shoe designer in the world.”

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