SOLE MAN
Dolce Magazine|Summer 2020
With their trademark scarlet soles and glamorous buyers, Christian Louboutin’s eponymous footwear are shoo-ins to the pantheon of modern fashion greats
JAN JANSSEN AND RICK MULLER

The history of fashion is replete with famous designers: Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld et al. But when it comes to shoes, one man stands above the rest — Christian Louboutin. One of the most-revered and successful shoe designers of the modern era, Louboutin has created a brand whose signature red soles have lent him an aura that not even Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik can match.

Propelled by Carrie Bradshaw’s fanatical devotion to Louboutin on Sex and the City, not to mention that of Princess Diana, he has become a household name among fashion-conscious women, particularly celebrities who can afford the expensive price tag that comes with his quintessential footwear. His designer credo is to “make a woman look sexy, beautiful, [and] make her legs look as long as I can.”

Not only did Louboutin spearhead the drive to bring high heels back into fashion in the 1990s, but he has also elevated shoe design into an art form. His impact on the cultural landscape has been so profound, his work was the subject of a landmark museum retrospective in Paris earlier this year. Slyly entitled Christian Louboutin: L’Exhibition[nist], the show opened on February 25 at the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris, where 500 of Louboutin’s original creations were on display, until France and the rest of Europe were locked down due to the novel coronavirus. But the palais has recently reopened, and the Louboutin retrospective is further confirmation of the 57-year-old French designer’s visionary esthetic and undeniable influence on the evolution of fashionable footwear.

Though some feminists may complain that his more radical creations, for example, his six-inch stilettos, serve to oppress women, Louboutin argues that such shoes are a “form of liberty,” allowing women to express their feminine power and elevate their stature. “There is something fragile and powerful [about] women in high heels,” Louboutin once declared, recognizing that female fashion has always embraced a high degree of tension between form and function.

“Women do not want to give up wearing high heels,” Louboutin declared prior to the opening of the Paris retrospective. “To be a woman is also about enjoying one’s freedom to be feminine if you want. Why renounce (high heels) when you can have them and flats . . . I don’t want people to look at my shoes and say, ‘They look really comfortable.’ The important thing is that people say, ‘Wow, they’re beautiful.’”

The appeal of Louboutin’s shoe designs is such that his work has become part of the pop-culture landscape. Cardi B was one of the first rap stars to acknowledge this with her reference to “red bottoms” in her hit single “Bodak Yellow,” while other singers, such as Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, have similarly embraced the cult of Louboutin. His shoes have become synonymous with luxury, daring and sexiness — the kind of mass recognition that few designers ever attain. “Pop culture is neither controlled or controllable, so I am very happy about that,” he has admitted.

Throughout his career, Louboutin has designed pumps with a bulging eye above the pinky toe, cascading rows of black and goldfish-like scales and even a super-platform pair with thousands of crystals. Famed also for his nude-coloured heels, he delights in being daring that is equal measure Marie Antoinette and Lady Gaga, but linked by a unifying desire to cater to bold, sexually confident women.

“I’ll do shoes for the lady who lunches, but it would be, like, a really nasty lunch, talking about men,” Louboutin once said. “But where I draw the line, what I absolutely won’t do, is [make shoes] for the lady who plays bridge in the afternoon.”

SEX AND THE SHOE

Louboutin became a fixture on the international fashion scene after various luminaries, such as Princess Caroline of Monaco and Princess Diana, began walking around in his shoes in the early 1990s. But perhaps the key to transforming Louboutin from obscure French shoe designer to fashion superstar came via the hit TV series Sex and the City, whose star, Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, stamped her seal of approval on Louboutins.

This set in motion the process of transforming his shoes into fetish objects for women, whereby footwear was equated with sex and sensuality. Hollywood actresses have long understood this connection, and that is why Louboutins are more popular than ever and worn to red carpet events by leading stars, such as Margot Robbie, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Daisy Ridley et al.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM DOLCE MAGAZINEView All

WRITTEN IN THE STARS: HOW SIMON KIM WAS DESTINED TO CREATE MICHELIN STAR–WORTHY RESTAURANTS

Restaurateur Simon Kim is bringing fun and fire to the American steakhouse by merging it with Korean barbeque, creating an authentic brand representative of who he is

7 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

THE NEW APPROACH TO LUXURY HOMES

As customers advocate for maximizing value, Studio 93 Inc is bringing a creative approach to the international market for luxury custom-home design and builds

4 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

GIOVANNA ENGELBERT: THE BRAINS AND BEAUTY BEHIND SWAROVSKI

Milanese fashion editor-turned-influencer Engelbert takes household brands to a whole new level

3 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

FROM FERRARI WITH LOVE

Celebrating the one-off cars built by Ferrari for Gianni Agnelli, the new MEF Modena exhibition has opened its doors online

3 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

CONNECTING THE DOTS: HOW RALF MADI BUILT HIS CAREER ON CURATING CONNECTION

Everything Madi has worked on has led him to his dream project: a hotel in Bali that he can’t wait to present to the world

7 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

TAMARA BAHRY: A PHOTOGRAPHIC LENS ON LIFE FOR TURNING THE ORDINARY INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY

By turning life’s mundane moments into creative and inspiring art collections, Bahry always includes a philanthropic component to her work by donating part of her sales to charities she’s most passionate about

4 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

DISSENTS AND AFFIRMATIONS: THE PURSUIT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s intent, her raison d’être, was clear: all men and all women, regardless of gender, race or creed, must be treated equally without fail

10+ mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

SMELLS LIKE SOMETHING GOOD

When Barb Stegemann’s friend Trevor Greene signed up with the Canadian Armed Forces because he wanted to help women in Afghanistan, she wanted to go, too. She couldn’t. But, when Greene was brutally attacked, Stegemann told him simply, “Don’t worry, I will take up the cause.” This is the story of how she poured her heart and soul into this new mission, achieving something far greater than either of them could ever have imagined — persuading farmers in Afghanistan and war-torn countries around the world to start growing flowers to make essential oil for perfumes

6 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX IN MONTREAL - REINVESTING TO EMERGE AS A FORMULA 1 LEADER

This landmark world sporting event welcomes a new C$50-million permanent building, ensuring its future global status for decades to come

2 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021

BRETT DAVID'S PRESTIGE IMPORTS: EXOTIC CARS CAPTURING SOUTH BEACH SWAGGER

With an inventory featuring Lamborghini, Lotus, Porsche, Ferrari, Bugatti and others, Prestige Imports has become one of the world’s most revered exotic sports car dealers

4 mins read
Dolce Magazine
Spring 2021
RELATED STORIES

HAIR INTERVENTION MAKES DEMI SNIPPY

DEMI MOORE’S three daughters are fed up with their aging mom’s awkward attempts to slurp from the fountain of youth, according to insiders, who said the gals staged an intervention to stop the “Ghost” beauty from further embarrassing herself with her limp, raggedy hairstyle!

1 min read
National Enquirer
October 25, 2021

See Which Countries Are Falling Behind On Climate Change

Under the Paris Agreement, 190 countries and the European Union pledged to take steps to hold the global temperature rise to less than 2C (3.6F) from preindustrial levels—and preferably 1.5C.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Markets
October - November 2021

PARIS JACKSON: LESSONS FROM MY FATHER

JUST 11 WHEN SHE LOST HER FAMOUS FATHER, PARIS JACKSON STILL CARRIES HIM WITH HER.

1 min read
Star
October 04, 2021

Get in Bed With LVMH

With its new Cheval Blanc hotel—16 years in the making—the luxury behemoth reinvents a cultural landmark.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 20, 2021

Hot Plots Preview!

What Will Happen

4 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
September 20, 2021

bold and beautiful

IMPASSE IMPERFECT

3 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
September 13, 2021

Julie Curtiss

In Her Wildest Dreams

10+ mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Fall 2021

Grand Opening

Paris welcomes LGBTQ+ travelers with open arms.

2 mins read
Global Traveler
August 2021

Cooking With Paris Is Anti-Aspirational Food Television

Paris Hilton rattles the very foundations of cooking shows.

5 mins read
New York magazine
August 16 - 29, 2021

DAYS OF OUR LIVES

James Reynolds (Abe)

3 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
August 02, 2021