Daphne Guinness, the fashion muse, couture collector and extreme-shoe addict, used to buy her signature 6in heels in sex shops before discovering him. Christina Aguilera owns more than 300 pairs and displays them on floor-to-ceiling shelves in her Los Angeles home. Over at his Motcomb Street store, one client buys doubles of each design — one pair to wear and one simply to look at.
The man responsible for such adoration and obsession is Christian Louboutin. A short, 45-year-old Frenchman, he creates the most desired shoes in the world — if you are wondering what to buy the woman in your life this year, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Louboutins. Today, he is dressed casually in a chunky knit and Tom Ford slacks, with a fresh pair of Adidas on his feet. He pushes a pair of thigh-high boots off the sofa in his chaotic showroom before sitting down. “Of course I am chaotic, I am French,” he explains, before adding, “but I know my own mess.”
Even the fashion illiterate recognise Louboutin’s signature red soles (conceived by accident after he idly painted the bottom of a prototype with his assistant’s scarlet nail polish), and even if they don’t know his name, instinctively they get what that provocative flash of colour is all about: Louboutin deals in seduction. “I prefer shoes that undress to shoes that dress,” he states. “A successful shoe is a shoe that accentuates nudity. The woman remains entirely nude when she wears those shoes. The shoe becomes the privilege of nudity.”
For the past 17 years, the patent red soles of the Louboutin brand have been coveted by women from all walks of life, from Hollywood stars to footballers’ wives, from politicians to prostitutes. “There’s the sexy side, and then there is the Parisian side, which is complementary but also the opposite. If you are very chic you might not need an extra drop of chicness, so you go for the sexy side and buy my shoes because they are...” — Louboutin grasps around for the right word — “tarty.