Red Emperor
Prestige Hong Kong|November 2017

Christian Louboutin is leading his label to global domination, one shoe, clutch and fragrance at a time. He invites ALICE FRANKLIN to his Parisian home and waxes lyrical.

ANCIENT GANDHARA ART; global warming and commercial overproduction; French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. When I settle in for a chat with the charming and supremely hospitable Christian Louboutin at his crow’s-nest home nestled just above the heart of the 1st arrondissement in Paris, I hadn’t envisaged our conversation would span quite such a range of varied subjects.

But within five minutes of being in Louboutin’s company, it’s clear that his creative process is anything but linear. His design vernacular is influenced by a vast library of references across different historical periods, and a plethora of industries and cultures. Our tête-a-tête quickly becomes an exercise in subject hopping as we talk collaborative partnerships, the importance of cross-pollination in ideas and how to build an empire.

But before I even get to sink into a sofa with the Frenchman who made red soles famous – his previous appointment had run a little late and you don’t rush a designer who’s invited you into his home, after all – it is an unexpected and humbling treat to get a glimpse of his most recent limited-edition collection with acclaimed Indian craftsman Sabyasachi, in a private presentation (arranged for someone far more important than me) showcased – where else? – but in the eaves of his own strikingly furnished residence.

What a sensational showcase of your work with Sabyasachi. You first worked together in 2015, how did that come about? 

It’s a bit of a happy accident – a total happy accident. I was in Mumbai, three years ago, and I was on my way to my store and there was the shop of Sabyasachi. I knew his work; I always loved his work. So I ended up being in the store, and by accident – because he is living in Calcutta – he was there. We spoke of cinema and food. Not clothes, no shoes. He said to me, ‘Listen, if you ever want to come to Calcutta, let me know ahead, this is my email.’ So, afterwards we started to exchange mail because I wanted to go to Calcutta, because I had never been. Well, I had been once when I was 20 and probably smoking so much pot I couldn’t even remember, so it was like I never went to Calcutta in the end. So, we started completely with a non-professional approach.

Do you think this sort of organic start to a collaboration helps?

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