Meet Christian Louboutin's Goddaughter, Elisa Sednaoui

Elisa Sednaoui - H 2014
AP Images

Elisa Sednaoui - H 2014

The Egyptian model-actress, who's also a muse for Karl Lagerfeld, recalls living next door to the shoe designer in Luxor, Egypt, and watching his rise to success

Elisa Sednaoui grew up next door to Christian Louboutin and remembers when he took her on her first trip to New York when she was 18. "People were asking him, 'Who is your date?' and he said, 'That's my goddaughter, actually,' " recalls Sednouai.

Embarrassment aside, the Egyptian model-actress and shoe designer to the stars were neighbors when Sednaoui was a child.

"Our relationship is really tied to Egypt and specifically the countryside. We were in Luxor, which is the opposite of any type of glamour. It's a desert with ancient Egyptian monuments. When I was a kid, he wasn't that famous. Caroline of Monaco knew him, but he wasn't famous, really," shares Sednouai. "I saw him become what he is. He's always been a mentor — supportive and inspiring."

It's Louboutin's infectious enthusiasm that moves Sednaoui. "What's most inspiring about Christian is how much fun he has doing everything he does. His energy and his positivity is contagious, and I think that's a big part of his success."

Sednaoui has been successful in modeling. She's fronted Armani, Cavalli and Diane von Furtstenberg campaigns, and she's currently the face of Chanel and a muse for Karl Lagerfeld.

"Karl is extremely inspiring. He's the type of person he'll enter any room and know who painted that painting, when, why — the whole history. He has a richness of knowledge, humor and the ability to look ahead and is very attentive to what is going on," she says. "The great thing about Karl is the extreme fashion talent and vision, but it's accompanied with a very solid culture."

As for modeling, she says it happened by chance, and she seized the opportunity to travel the world. Though she struggled with it for some time when she was breaking into acting, she's come to terms with it after having her son last year.

"The cinema world [in France] is extremely snobby, and they made me feel like I couldn't model anymore. After I had a child, I thought, 'This is stupid!' I am letting other people make me feel uncomfortable about who I am."

She returned to modeling and refocused her energies on starting a foundation and co-directing a documentary about Egypt.

Louboutin has been very supportive of Sednaoui's new foundation. In fact, the two just collaborated on the year-old charity's first fundraising drive. Sednaoui has established a cultural center for Egyptian children.

"The idea is to give children a space where they can be kids, have fun, learn tolerance and be equal — girls and boys — and where they can learn from local artists." Children have suffered quietly in the economic crisis and especially since the revolution, she says, something she hopes her foundation can alleviate with classes in art, photography and music. "Children need to have hope, to be accepted and to have the opportunity to think big."

Sednaoui and Louboutin's first fundraiser went well, she reports, and the two will continue to collaborate.