Reclining like a Freudian analysand on a red divan in his Paris office, Christian Louboutin looks as if he’s prepared to spill his guts. Instead, he yawns and grumbles that last night’s party left him “wiped out.”
The fete in question marked the opening of “Fetish,” an exhibition at the Galerie du Passage Pierre Passebon of David Lynch’s photographs of women in Louboutin’s towering shoes, which attracted a sophisticated Parisian crowd that included France’s new first lady, CÚcilia Sarkozy. There, Lynch mused on the universality of his motif. “We all have a set of fetishes,” he offered. “And Christian knows a few things when it comes to shoes. You know what I mean?”
Obviously thousands of women do. In his 15 years in business, Louboutin, 43, has become a darling of the chic-shod set, renowned both for his flattering stilettos and his sparkling personality. Yet, not one to rest on his laurels, the designer has ratcheted up his luxury profile even higher by quietly opening a made-to-measure salon on a courtyard across the street from his rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau headquarters.
“I was scared,” Louboutin says, kicking off his Sperry Top-Siders and pulling on the collar of his striped rugby shirt. “At first I thought, What if I don’t have any clients?” Au contraire. In the past six months, 70 of Louboutin’s most faithful regulars—Sofia Coppola, Zoe Cassavetes, Arielle Dombasle, Liliane Bettencourt and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison among them—have given his bespoke service a whirl. “This is a world of standardization,” he says. “So when a woman comes to me with a wish, it’s exciting to be able to realize it. To fulfill a woman’s precise desire—that is the ultimate luxury.”