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We can’t help it. We got all giddy around Christian Louboutin at the shoe designer’s recent 20th anniversary and book signing at Barneys in Beverly Hills.
The man is a STAR. He was wearing his own fully studded Oxford shoes that were both tailored and punk at the same time. He had on an immaculate suit. He talks faster than Karl Lagerfeld. He has a great memory. And he’s very very funny, which we did not expect. The Hollywood Reporter’s Fash Track got a half-hour with the shoe icon, and our soles — and our soul — will now always be red.
The Hollywood Reporter: Do you spend a lot of time in L.A.?
Christian Louboutin: I love it here! I’ve got about four days; I will be here through the weekend. I’m going to go to LACMA, to some antique stores on La Brea, to see my friend Mikal, a young European pop star who is recording here. I also love the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Then I go to New York, then Brazil the next day. Sometimes I don’t know what city I’m in. But I have many friends here, and I have always loved movies and movie culture.
THR: Did you always want to be a shoe designer?
Louboutin: Not at all. I never wanted to work in fashion. At age 12 or 13, I wanted to design for showgirls — for the theater! And I was crazy for the Hollywood of the 1950s: Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones. They were my idea of glamour — and Sylvie Vartan, the French singer. I knew her in France, and then she came to the U.S. And one day early in my career I saw a photo of her — and she was wearing my shoes!
THR: It’s hard to imagine a time when celebrities didn’t wear them. Who were the first you recall?
Louboutin: Nicole Kidman. She wore them very early on. She was wearing them at the funeral of the late Princess Diana.
THR: And you’ve designed shoes for films, of course.
Louboutin: Yes. I created shoes for a film John Malkovich directed — he was living in the south of France and we met. He actually wrote the intro to my book. I also made shoes for Christina Aguilera to wear in Burlesque — they were one of a kind. And I made shoes for a Bollywood star, in India.
THR: They know you in India?
Louboutin: Of course. I sell in India. I’m about to open my first store in India, in New Delhi. Then one in Mumbai. Yes, there are very few designer shops in India — but not for long. I love Bollywood and all those films. The women there are very feminine. And I love saris.
THR: Any other unlikely places you are opening stores?
Louboutin: One in Vietnam. One in Turkey. Women in these places are acquiring a taste to dress up. The internet and tourism are leading to that, I think.
THR: Are you at all influenced by awards season in Hollywood?
Louboutin: It’s quite important. Women in L.A. go out and buy new wardrobes for all the events surrounding this. I make sure our L.A.-based stores and South Coast Plaza store are stocked with slightly lower-heeled evening shoes, and I put in less sandals or stillettos. You do not want women falling when they are running to a podium!
THR: You have sometimes made custom shoes for stars. I know you made a pair of higher heels than usual for Sarah Jessica Parker.
Louboutin: Yes, for Sarah, higher. She got married in my shoes. I don’t usually go lower. Although I did for Nicole Kidman. The highest heels I do are six-inch heels — but mostly only dancers can wear them, since they are used to being on point in ballet shoes. Their feet are arched.
THR: Do you remember every single shoe you’ve done?
Louboutin: Yes. I am with them from concept to execution to promotion. You end up knowing them all very well. I don’t repeat that many styles if I can help, although some have become classics. I try not to repeat. I’d rather surprise people. My favorite of the moment is the Pigalle, covered in sparkles. It is one of the few things I don’t need my glasses to see!
THR: What shoes do you wear when you don’t wear your own?
Louboutin: I buy Dries van Noten shoes. I love his clothes, too.
THR: We hear you help decorate your stores.
Louboutin: Oh, absolutely. I put the antiques I find in the stores. I got the giant parrot from my Melrose store at the Rose Bowl!
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