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Thursday 25 May 2017

Selfridges Meets: Christian Louboutin

SELFRIDGES MEETS: CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN

Behind an unassuming red door on a Parisian side street, the world's most famous shoe designer creates his next icons. We step inside the world of Louboutin to ask the man himself about his new-to-selfridges.com men's collection, his favourite London curry house and just where that red sole came from.

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/Q/
So much has been written about how your shoes make women feel, but how would you like your shoes to make men feel?

/A/
Well, in a way, the same as women: I would like them to feel good. But it's a different attitude; for men, it's about feeling good but also about feeling unique. When I'm designing, I don't think of different types of men, but different types of attitude. You can be different types of men throughout your day – you can be serious in the day and wilder in the evening.

/Q/
Where does your inspiration stem from?

/A/
When I started to design shoes for women, I always had this idea of 'showgirls' – not necessarily a showgirl on stage, but the side of a showgirl in every woman. I would say, I discovered that in every man there is also a showman. I'm thinking of a person, not necessarily on stage, but an outspoken person.

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Christian Louboutin – Roadie Flat Suede Boots (coming soon)

/Q/
Why are the traditions of craft so important to you?

/A/
I suppose it comes from the fact that my father was a carpenter; he was always making things, so he made me look closely at objects. The making of shoes for men is very, very specific, in the sense that before you get to the details, it's about the shape and form. It's almost like designing a car, so it's about the lines rather than the height. The technique is so important.

/Q/
Do your designs ever shock your traditional Italian shoemakers?

/A/
They are never shocked because even in the case of these 'non-serious' shoes, shall we say, there is still a lot of respect for the handcrafting. In factories, the most important part for the artisans is that the shoes are well-made, so if you have tonnes of attention to a shoe being glittery with deep pink, then they might think you're crazy, but if they see you have the same attention to the stitching, then they respect you. So, shock? No…although saying that, I'm not sure that they would wear the shoes – but that's OK!

I like that mad human nature.
I think that's something I reflect in my shoes too. They are made to cheer you up.

Christian Louboutin

/Q/
Today, men seem to be more open to wearing more statement shoe styles – why do you think that is?

/A/
Over the last few years, men have put their own attitude into their clothes – their personalities are appearing in different places. Gradually the barriers have been going down. So now, for instance, if you look at things from a classical point of view, like on the red carpet, it's still the formal suit and black tie, but then it's suddenly the shoes that are the expression of personality. It's definitely about the detail of shoes.

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/Q/
Do you still feel excited when you see someone wearing your shoes?

/A/
Absolutely. It's great! What makes me most happy is when I see someone walking down the street and I'm thinking 'that looks like a great shoe!' and then sometimes I'm jealous thinking 'I wish I had designed that shoe'. Then they turn and it's a red sole, and I think: 'Oh, yes! It's mine!'.

/Q/
Where does your love of playful design come from?

/A/
First of all, I'm designing the thing that I like, and I like to be playful. If I didn't have fun in my work, I would be bored, and the reflection would probably be boring work. I'm someone who likes people very much. I like conversation. Endless conversation. Useless conversation. I like that sort of madness in people's brains – when people look completely normal and then they start talking and you're like 'wow, they're crazy'. I like that mad human nature. I think that's something I reflect in my shoes too. They are made to cheer you up.

/Q/
Why do spikes feature so prominently in your designs?

/A/
When I started putting spikes on things, I had lots of people saying, 'Oh my God – it’s like a dominatrix!', and I was like: 'No, I'm not into bondage or anything!'. The reality, for me, is that it's just a very decorative object that can be perceived in different ways – I like that. I let people run with their imaginations.

/Q/
Where did the red sole come from?

/A/
In around 1992, I made a new shoe and it didn't look as good as my drawing. The drawing was very precise, but when I turned the shoe and looked from the back, it looked very black. The entire shoe became black and it lost the shape. So I painted it and it became the shoe in my drawing.

After that, I thought I'd do coloured soles for my shoes – every season a different one – but then I was looking at the red on women's lips and nails, and thought that although women often do not wear colour, they do not think of red as a colour almost. There is not one interpretation that doesn't see red as a strong colour. There is no downside to red.

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/Q/
What words come to mind when you think of Selfridges?

/A/
There is something quite warm about Selfridges that I love. People feel super at ease and are enjoying themselves. Some stores feel quite cold; you want to do what you have to do and leave. Selfridges warms up its clients. You can see people spend a great amount of time there because they feel at home. There is a very homey (rather than 'comfortable', which is an adjective I hate) feeling to Selfridges that is very nice. I can imagine myself lying down for a moment on a sofa at Selfridges and not thinking about it.

/Q/
Why is Paris so important to the identity of your brand?

/A/
Because Paris is my home. I was born here, so I feel very attached to the city. When you're attached to a place, when it's your nest, it's a place to become grounded. As much as my brand has become global, I remain very Parisian. And I'm happy because it's part of my individuality. I can think of myself as a citizen of the world, but at the same time I need to think of myself as attached to Paris.

/Q/
What makes someone stylish?

/A/
Someone, first of all, who trusts in him or herself. Someone who is not trying to pick up the 'new thing' all the time. People who obsess over style, to me, are often not stylish. Style is not just the way you look, it's more of an attitude. If you are obsessed with style, you're just missing the point. Just like people who are extremely beautiful – if they are obsessed with their own beauty, it's incredibly unattractive.

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The Selfridges quick-fire round

/Q/
Favourite film?

/A/
'Bajirao Mastani' – a big Bollywood period movie set in the 16th century. Dancers, incredible jewelry, incredible costumes, incredible sets – the entire movie is fantastic. I love Indian culture and I love Indian cinema. When I was a kid, I lived with my parents in the 12th arrondissement in Paris and nearby they were always playing Indian movies.

/Q/
Favourite London restaurant?

/A/
My favourite restaurant in London is Khan's of Kensington, which is an Indian restaurant in South Kensington, and I love La Petite Maison, which is near Claridge's - delicious food!

/Q/
Favourite travel destination?

/A/
I've been back and forth to Cuba every year for the last 12 years now. I love Cuba; I've always loved it. The happiness of the place! The beauty! The music is great, the colours are incredible, and the people have a great sense of style.

/Q/
The top insider tip for Paris?

/A/
There is a fantastic museum that is never packed with tourists: The Palace of the Golden Gate, or it's also called The Museum of Immigration (which is less fun!). It's one of the most beautiful buildings – the inside, the outside – it's so spectacular.

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