Known primarily in the past for creating bespoke footwear for A-list celebrities, brides and other fashion-conscious females, Christian Louboutin has slowly over the years begun his foray into men’s footwear with a bevy of stylish pieces. Having recently opened up a NYC store to meet the growing want for his various classic dress shoes, iconic spiked loafers, and luxe kicks, the French designer recently sat down for a bit of reflection after the Meat Packing District opening. While choice excerpts appear below, the entire interview with Christian Louboutin can be read at GQ.
You’ve designed for other entertainers on stage, women and men, aside from Mika. Is there a secret to designing a shoe meant for the stage versus one for daily life? Does it come down to materials that are reflective or shiny or does the silhouette change?
It really depends on people, on the performer. Some performers are very sleek and so the design is going to be very simple, very straight lines, or either pointed really, I’d say in terms of line. Depending who is on stage it can be the shape as it really is or it can be an added element. It really depends on people.
When you decided to move ahead with the line of men’s shoes, did you find anything challenging about the transition? Were there issues you didn’t anticipate?
Something quite challenging for me is that for the longest time guys, especially me being born and raised in Paris, we always have this idea that men just love shoes and a shoe should last forever. I have seen it many times lately that a lot of guys are not anymore in this attitude. It could be called metrosexual or whatever. But a lot of guys who are really into shoes are just like women who are really into shoes. Even if women adore shoes I haven’t really met any women yet that are proud to have shoes for twenty years. There is a whole new attitude to men – they’re pretty excited the way women are about shoes and it’s definitely not a gay attitude. I mean it does concern gay people as well, but it’s clearly not a specialty to gay people. A lot of guys have told me they now understand the excitement they saw their wives have for five years.
Technically speaking, what’s the biggest difference between designing for a man and for a woman? Obviously it’s different based on heel height, but are there details that are particular to designing a shoe for a man?
Definitely, you know it’s a funny, it’s quite rare that when I’m designing shoes for men and then for women at the same time because…
That’s what I was going to ask.
I actually put myself in a specific state of mind. Let’s say I take a piece of leather and I’m thinking of a woman. I’m going to think, “OK, can I recover bottoms, can I do a bow, is it soft enough, can I drape it?” When I’m in my men mentality then I’m going to visualize it completely differently. Is it thick enough? Will it expand enough? Is it soft enough that guys will like it? Do I need to line it? I mean the question will be completely different. That’s why you have to program yourself if I’m into men or if I’m into women. When I’m working for women it’s never curvy enough. You know the heel is curving the legs but also curving the body. When you’re thinking men you’re thinking differently and designing with more angles, you know. My drawing for women is really curvy. My drawings for men are actually quite angular.