When we heard that Christian Louboutin was in Dublin to show off his AW11 collection, and promote the newly opened store in Brown Thomas, we had to send someone to meet the fabulous Frenchie. We love his shoes, obviously, but he's a charmer too. So funny, so chilled and with a ballsy style that suggests he's a little bit country and a lot rock n' roll. His collaborations with international design houses are ace (remember those Holly Fulton studded slippers and this seasons Mary Katrantzou boots?), he drives a Vespa and there's even a street named after him in Paris (kind of!) But seriously, whats not to LOVE about Christian?!
Grazia Daily: So, Christian, welcome to sunny Dublin. What have you been up to since you got here?
Christian Louboutin: I arrived late last night so I did nothing bar have a giant glass of red wine (French, naturally) and relax for the evening. But, I've been to Ireland before-I biked around Wickow, Connemara and Bantry-it was beautiful. I'm kind of obsessed with gardening and Ireland is like the ultimate garden!
His collaboration with genius designer Mary Katrantzou
GD: How's the Dublin store working out for you? I think people thought it was a risky move considering the fact that everyone is obsessed with the banking blunders and property crisis right now, but you seem to be invincible….
Christian: Nah. I've just always done things according to my heart. If you wait for the timing to be absolutely right, in terms of an economy, you'd never get anything done! Even when I started in 1991 people told me I was crazy, that it was the wrong time, that I should wait. I listen to my heart when making these decisions and it's worked so far.
GD: You work with tonnes of designers on shoes to compliment their collections, how does the collaboration process work?
Christian: It's a different process for every designer. With Mary Katrantzou, for AW11, we screen-printed a shoe that I had already drawn (Figurina). For Todd (that's Todd Lynn!) we adapt things slightly each season working off something that already exists and changing it slightly to suit the mood. It really depends on the designer but it's always fun.
GD: Who's you favourite?
Christian: Because of the industry, I tend to work a lot with men but I prefer working with female designers. I love to see the woman trying the shoe on. There is so much enthusiasm and energy because they can really relate to the shoes! There's a practicality that they bring to the process that I like and, also, it reminds me of being with my sisters, who I miss a lot.
GD: Is there anyone you won't work with? (I tried to push but he's the ultimate professional and would not spill!)
Christian: I've never had any trouble, but a designer came to me recently, (I cannot say who), and brought a beautiful sketch of a shoe. He wanted me to create it for his show. I told him to bring it to a cobbler! I am not someone who executes designs, I am someone who makes them. A collaboration has to work for both people so unless I am involved in the design, I am not interested in making shoes for the sake of it.
GD: Dare I ask you about what you think of the Galliano scenario? Having your namesake label taken away must be every designers worst nightmare…
Christian: I feel sad for him, it must be very hard for John because your name is your identity. When your label is your own name you defend it as a brand but also as yourself. It's part of who you are and, physically, you are very involved-the two cannot be separated. Being sacked from a (design) house where you've been working for a long time is hard but having your name taken away is like ripping off the Band Aid. I would hate to lose my identity like that.
GD: Speaking of identity, the Christian Louboutin label has a pretty strong one! Your signature red sole is iconic now, how did it come about!?
Christian: I had designed a collection inspired by Pop Art, using really bright, primary colours. When I saw the prototype it just wan't as good, even though he had done everything perfectly. The detail and the colours were right but there was something missing. I was examining it and realised that the black sole on the shoe wasn't in the drawing. There was a girl working with me at the time and she was painting her nails a bright shade of red. I took the polish and painted over the black and that was it! Women loved it and I've never stopped…
GD: When was the first time you saw a glimpse of that red sole on a stranger?
Christian: I was in a club in Paris and spotted a woman wearing a pair of my heels. She was small with long curly hair and she was dancing, quite vigorously! I couldn't relax because I thought the heel was going to snap, but, after an hour of her dancing it was still OK so I went to her and offered her a drink. She was very rude actually, she thought I was into her and I just said 'Oh no baby, you have me all wrong!". I never told her who I was but it gave me confidence that the shoes were good and strong. Now I do the dance test on Beyonce!
GD: I believe there's a street named after you in Paris
Christian: Yes, "Passage Louboutin". No, not really, we always joke about this. I opened my studio years ago on a small street in Paris and, after that, my very first store. Now the PR, marketing and retail departments are all there. People laugh because you walk down this particular street and all you see is beautiful women in red soles. "Passage Louboutin", I like it!
- Angela Scanlon