Red Soles by the Bay

by Natasha Wolff | December 22, 2017 11:00 am

His boutique visits are always highly anticipated events and Christian Louboutin[1]’s recent stop into his San Francisco shop was no exception. Louboutin’s spacious Maiden Lane outpost was packed on this particular evening with a bevy of red-soled beauties—and, of course, I’m referring to both the guests and the 53-year-old French designer’s iconic footwear lining the store.

Louboutin blew into town with no intention of sitting for interviews, only to see the boutique and some of his loyal local clients. Fortune smiled on me, however, and Monsieur Louboutin took some time to sit and chat a bit about his trip, his working style, current inspirations and being a regular pop culture reference.

His fondness for San Francisco is no secret. “People here are warm and welcoming and are great hosts, which is very similar to the European mentality,” says Louboutin. I wonder if the city and its clientele feel much different to him than New York or Paris, and he’s quick to praise the City by the Bay. “The conversation in San Francisco revolves around wine and delicatessens, for which it is highly regarded and loved in Europe,” he explains. “And, of course, technology, which makes sense given its closeness to Silicon Valley.”

Christian Louboutin visited his luxurious Maiden Lane boutique this fall. (Photo credit: Devlin Shand for Drew Altizer Photography)

I couldn’t help continually scanning the boutique’s sublime selection of footwear. His recent women’s arrivals like the Dolly Dola, May Wong and Mariposa are alive with vitality. I’m fascinated to know where he begins to conceptualize these virtual works of art. “It all starts with a drawing and my obsession with details,” says Louboutin[2]. “In this case, the designs speak for themselves.” His men’s shoes are no exception. The Casano Flat
and Mister Academy are a dandy’s dream, and I have to believe it’s more challenging to design for men. “Designing for men is a different attitude,” he explains. “Therefore, I don’t draw for men on the days when I’m working on women’s designs.”

Just what, I wonder, are Louboutin’s current inspirations for his upcoming collections? “Right now, I’m concentrating on various collaborations that tie back to India, Bhutan and one,” he says, “specific to Northern California.”

Men’s Monono Flat, $995; Paloma Small Tote Bag, $2,100; Trouble In Heaven 30ML Parfume, $135.

I’m struck by how often the luxury brand is referenced in pop culture—particularly in music. Jay-Z, Keri Hilson, Drake, Jessi Malay and Jennifer Lopez have all immortalized the designer in their lyrics, and I wonder how it makes him feel. “When people are paying homage to you, it’s hard to understand that your name is used in a way that belongs in pop culture,” Louboutin says. “In different parts of the world my name has been celebrated, but I can see that it’s always associated in an aspirational way and conveys empowerment and freedom.” I bring up Bronx rapper Cardi B’s song “Bodak Yellow” and, specifically, her hit’s enemy-denouncing lyrics: “These expensive, these is red bottoms—these is bloody shoes.” “The name carries different values for different people in different parts of the world,” he says thoughtfully. “But, it’s not in my hands.” And, he’s quick to add, “There is nothing wrong with that.”

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