The fact that Christian Louboutin began his career at the age of 16 designing shoes for the Folies-Bergere should tell you a lot about the sensibilities of this red-hot shoe designer. The fact that his hero is fellow Parisian Roger Vivier, whose sculptural high heels have graced the feet of everyone from Josephine Baker to Catherine Deneuve, should tell you everything else.

The Follies account for Louboutin’s sense of showmanship, whether it’s a gold-plated leather and leopard-print sandal or a thigh-high deerskin boot. As for Vivier, he was a master not just of shape but of texture, too, which may help explain why Louboutin enjoys working with materials as varied as python and Lucite.

But for all these influences, Louboutin’s high heels, mules, boots, and sandals are uniquely his own, the most obvious example being his practice of painting the soles of his shoes nail-polish red, no matter what the upper looks like. Indeed, this single device almost sums up the Louboutin aesthetic—brash, surprising, and undeniably eye catching.

After his introduction to fashion from a costumer’s perspective, Louboutin worked for Charles Jourdan and Yves Saint Laurent. He opened his own boutique in Paris in 1991 and today has shops in major cities around the world.

A good pair of Louboutins often makes Manolo Blahnik’s creations look like sensible Oxfords. Sure he does ballet flats, but Louboutin’s are dyed in purple, red, or yellow, after which they are covered with spikes. When Louboutin conjures a “safari shoe,” he sees a stiletto skinned in snake.

Want a Louboutin Mary Jane? Be prepared for a pump in multi-hued canvas with a 5-inch heel and an open toe. And his short boots are secured to the foot with all manner of straps that variously resemble bondage devices or slender seat belts.

Louboutin shoes excel at unusual combinations of materials, such as fishnet paired with patent leather. Like nature, Louboutin abhors a vacuum, which may explain why a pair of pu...

Heels, too, get the Louboutin treatment. Chunky ones are carved and painted gold, curved ones are meant to mirror the lines of a woman’s body. Up front, below the toes and ball of the foot, Louboutin frequently hides modest, flat platforms, making his 5-inch heels a bit more manageable. Even the lowly espadrille gets a Louboutin makeover—his versions feature uppers of lilac ribbon, tanned leather, or floral prints, with ropey platform wedges below.

Naturally people who make their living based on the impression they create are drawn to Louboutin shoes. J-Lo, who has a self-professed weakness for his heels, recorded a hit single called “Louboutins” that describes a woman leaving an unworthy boyfriend, not in slippers and a veil of tears but defiantly in 5-inch heels.

Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas is similarly fond of her Louboutins—she has been photographed countless times strutting the stage in her silver, above-the-knee Louboutin Supra Fifre boots, whose heel height rivals J-Lo’s. This is footwear that projects power and independence, although it’s a safe bet that the hip-hop diva has someone to help her with each boot’s 21 hooks.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Mens Christian Louboutin Size 38Nib Christian Louboutin Leather Red Sole Ankle Boot, Sz 40.5 Eu / 10.5 UsChristian Louboutin MenChristian Louboutin So Kate 38Gorgeous Louboutin 35.5 Pigalle Plato Nude PatentChristian LouboutinChristian Louboutin Sneakers Blue Suede Men Size 11.5Christian Louboutin Declic 140mm Strass Eur 37 Us 7Christian Louboutin Black 'so Kate 120' Patent Leather Pumps/heels/shoes Sz 39Christian Louboutin Pigalle Follies Nude Size 40Christian Louboutin Black So Kate S 36.5 Worn Once; Box, Dustbag, & Shopping BagChristian Louboutin Brown Boots 37.5 Us 7 - 7.5Christian Louboutin Men's Louis Spikes 46 Christian Louboutin SneakersNew Christian Louboutin Decollete 554 85 Black Patent Pump Heel Shoe 38Christian Louboutin So Kate Python Inferno 42, Worn Once. So Kate Women's Christian Louboutin Patent Leather Stilettos - Size 38.5Christian Louboutin 46Authentic Christian Louboutin Big Dorcet Baseball Gold Pumps 42 Fits 11New Christian Louboutin Pink & Metallic Mesh Crystal "follie Strass" Flats Sz 35Christian Louboutin So Kate 36 Ntw AuthenticMens Christian Louboutin Sz 44 Black/orlatoAuthentic Christian Louboutin DaffodilChristian Louboutin Size 42 - Great Condition - Worn By WillamChristian Louboutin Patent So Kate 120 Pumps 39.5 Nude 183362Christian Louboutin Patent So Kate 120 Pumps 39.5 Black 183362Christian Louboutin White Jacqueline 120 Leather & Silk Chiffon Sandals Size 41Christian Louboutin *authentic* So Kate 120 Python Tropican Sz 40 *bnib* $1395Christian Louboutin So Kate 41 Nude-blackClassic Christian Louboutin Black Leather Peep Toe Heels Size 41.5Christian Louboutin Women Shoes Size 41Men's Christian Louboutin Blue Leather Casual Shoes Size 13.5New Never Worn Christian Louboutin Black Suede Pumps Size 38Christian Louboutin Sneakers Size 12Christian Louboutin Decollete 868 100 Black Patent Calf Size 41Christian Louboutin. Size 39 New With BoxChristian Louboutin Decollete 868 100 Black Patent Pumps Heels 38 Rrp$675Louboutin Bianca Nude Shoes Pumps 35 Us 5Christian Louboutin So Kate Black Patent Pump Size 37 7 120Christian Louboutin Black Leather Platform Heels Size 38 8Christian LouboutinChristian Louboutin Pigalle 120 Patent Calf Women's Size 39Twice Worn Christian Louboutin So Kate Black Patent Leather Pumps Size 38Christian Louboutin Black Trepeter Oxfords - Eu 41, Us 8 - 8.5, Barely Worn OnceChristian Louboutin *authentic* So Kate 120 Python Metal Sz 37.5 *bnib*Christian Louboutin *authentic* Megavamp 120 Python Silver Sz 40 *bnib*Christian Louboutin Daffodil 160 Suede Taupe , 42Christian Louboutin *authentic* So Kate 120 Python Electric Sz 39.5 *bnib* $1395Christian Louboutin Ares Black Leather Spiked Espadrilles Sz 38 Us 8 Uk 5 Rt$695Christian Louboutin Kate 120 SuedeNib Christian Louboutin So Kate 120 Red-nude Patent Degrade Pump Heel 40Christian Louboutin Multicolor Glittered Peep Toe "no. Prive" Pumps Sz 42Christian Louboutin Mary Jane Black Patent Leather Pumps Size 42 Pre-ownedChristian Louboutin Caged Black Suede Booties Size 41Christian Louboutin 39 Lady Daf Black & White HeelsNib Christian Louboutin Lady Peep Sling 150 Version Navy Pat Leather Sz.40 $975Christian Louboutin Altadama Size 40 Red Suede Perfect ConditionChristian Louboutin Greissimo 120 Majenta Suede Peep Toe Pump Heels 37 7 Christian Louboutin 39 Used Color Block Suede Black Pink Tan PumpChristian Louboutin Demi You Glitter Rosette 100mm Heels Pumps Peep Toe Sz 35.5