My way of dancing disco is very similar to a fabulous young, French singer called Corine,” Christian Louboutin tells us when we ask him to describe his signature Saturday-night dance move. “Which I’m pretty happy with as she’s a great performer,” he laughs, a permanent twinkle in his eye.
“Dance has always been a source of inspiration for me. I started out as an intern at [iconic cabaret dance hall] Folies Bergère in Paris, helping the dancers out backstage. All I wanted to do was design shoes for them,” he continues of his formative years growing up in the French capital. “They were like night birds to me – ornate with feathers, strass and crystals… But more than dancers, I like performers in general for the consciousness they have of their bodies and the way they move. It’s about an attitude.”
It’s this attitude and joie de vivre that is the very definition of Christian Louboutin; writ large over the entire brand. No one else could have created such a temple of exuberance; his red soles becoming shorthand over the years for glamour, luxury, but over and above that – for fun as well. And he certainly insists on you having fun in his shoes, be that in a classic 120mm So Kate pump, or – and rather more appropriately, we might add – hitting the town in a fancy flat, on-trend kitten heel, or even a fabulous sneaker, all of which, quite honestly, we tend to forget about when we think of Louboutin. More fool us, it seems.
“We recently counted the number of shoes I’ve designed since the beginning of my career and it’s around 15,000,” he tells us of his prolific output since setting up shop back in 1991. “Spring/Summer 20 is a particularly important collection in the sense that the shoe market has evolved a lot in the past few years. Clients are expecting a range way wider than just stilettos – but I’ve been designing flats, sneakers and kitten heels since day one. But I do love being part of this change and enjoy designing them in a creative way, without sticking to the usual stuff you can find everywhere.”
Christian Louboutin on the dancefloor at Le Palace, Paris
Since the entire season has been inspired by dance – and since the man himself will be heading to Dubai this month to celebrate it – perhaps we’ll find him throwing some shapes on a dancefloor Downtown at some point. “I had a great time when I was a teenager at Le Palace in Paris,” he remembers. “It was a very short period; two or three years of insouciance and infinite nights. But it’s over now,” he sighs. “To me, though, the place doesn’t really count as long as you’re surrounded by great friends and good music. A nightclub shouldn’t be about the DJ, either. I don’t like when I see people all facing the DJ instead of dancing with their friends. I find it quite disturbing to see all those people looking in the same direction!”
If not on the dancefloor, where else might one bump into Christian while he’s in town? “There’s a small Syrian restaurant in Dubai that I love to go to called Diwan Al Muhanna. It has amazing food. But what I love most about Dubai is that it’s so cosmopolitan with many influences. I love to discover new spots there because it’s a city with so many nationalities all in one place.” A man after our own heart – and sole.
From the November 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia