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Vogel 1 Ashley Vogel Intro. to Fashion Business Majumdar 15 October 2013 Christian Louboutin High-fashion footwear designer, Christian Louboutin, was born in Paris’s 12th arrondissement to furniture maker Roger Louboutin and wife, Irene and had three older sisters. His mother was very indulgent, which means he was granted a great deal of freedom. At the age of twelve, Louboutin left home to live with an older friend. They often roamed the streets of Paris. After taking a trip to Paris’s Museum of African and Oceanic Art, Christian Louboutin was intrigued by a sign prohibiting the wearing of stiletto heels on the mosaic floors. The image of a fifties-era stiletto with a red slash through it, making the shoe forbidden, left a sharp impression. Later, he found interest in sketching pictures of shoes. At the age of sixteen, Louboutin ditched school for three weeks to go to Egypt with a friend then ended up getting expelled from The Lycée (a large French primary and secondary independent school). Christian Louboutin later attended a mostly female vocation fashion school in France. After getting expelled, Louboutin got a job in the famous Parisian cabaraet. He did all sorts of jobs for the dancers, including fulfilling his personal dream of creating shoes for them. Christian Louboutin attempted to sell his sketches to dancers at the Folies Bergère. After being told there is no money for custom shoes, stays on anyway to soak up experience.


2 “As a teenage apprentice in the dressing rooms of the Folies-Bergère, the famed Parisian music hall, Louboutin was impressed with the ability of the showgirls to remain sure-footed while wearing huge headdresses; it was then, in the early 1980s, that he realized the strength of his interest in footwear design” (Cosgrave). Louboutin then learned the ins and outs of the shoe business when he landed a job with Charles Jourdan in the early 1980s. After working with the showgirls for several months, Christian Louboutin decided to get serious with shoes. He contacted Christian Dior and offered his shoe designs. Fashion director, Hélène de Mortemart sent him to intern with Charles Jourdan, Dior’s shoe producer. That is where Louboutin later learned all about technique and trade. In 1983, Christian Louboutin began free-lancing for Chanel, Maud Frizon, Yves Saint Laurent and others while periodically taking time off for sojourns in India. Loubotutin experimented with writing about garden design for French Vogue but he missed drawing shoes. “In 1992 Louboutin launched his own business in Paris, where he continued to use the boutique and design atelier as his headquarters. He developed an unmistakable signature by giving all of his shoes bright red soles. A typical pair of his luxury shoes might also have a stiletto heel and upper parts of coloured leather or exotic reptile skins; prices averaged about $800 a pair” (Cosgrave). A year later while doing some shoe sketches, Louboutin felt that something was missing with his designs. He borrowed his assistant’s nail polish and painted the black soles red. In September of 1993, Vogue spotlights Louboutin’s coveted Zodiac pump and the opening of his first United States boutique on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. In 1995,


Vogel 3 Christian Louboutin designed shoes for Jean Paul Gaultier, Diane von Furstenberg, Givenchy, Lanvin, Chloe, Viktor & Rolf, and Azzaro. Louboutin received New York’s footwear industry FFANY Award in 1996. In March of 2008, Christian Louboutin trademarked his signature red soles in the United States. Christian Louboutin’s shoes are especially known for their red lacquer soles on the bottom. The shoes are designed to target men because he believes men are like bulls. He believes they cannot resist the red sole. In April of 2011, Christian Louboutin sued Yves Saint Laurent for trademark infringement after a red shoe with red soles appeared in its cruise collection. A New York judge rejects Louboutin’s bid to stop sales of the Yves Saint Lauren shoe, concluding that color “serves ornamental and aesthetic functions vital to robust competition” and that Louboutin is “unlikely to be able to prove that its red outsole brand is entitled to trademark protection.” “The U.S. Appeals Court in Manhattan overturned a lower court decision by deciding that Louboutin shoes that have red soles combined with a different color top are protected under trademark, while a shoe design that is a monochromatic red all over cannot be protected. That means Louboutin can theoretically prevent another designer from putting out a black stiletto with a red sole, for example, but not a red stiletto with a red sole. The contrasting red bottom is "an identifying mark firmly associated with" Christian Louboutin, the court decided. The decision overturns the ruling by a lower court judge last year dismissing Louboutin's bid to get a temporary injunction and prevent Yves Saint Laurent from selling red-soled shoes that allegedly resembled its own designs. The appeals judge did not grant the injunction, however, and sent the case back to the trial


4 judge. “We hold that the lacquered red outsole, as applied to a shoe with an ‘upper’ of a different color, has ‘come to identify and distinguish' the Louboutin brand and is therefore a distinctive symbol that qualifies for trademark protection,” the court said. But both companies at this point are claiming victory.” (Li). The Vouguepedia article attached to my paper shows a long timeline of Christian Louboutin’s success in the fashion industry. It also explains his personal history and background as well as how he got to where he is today. The article includes a timeline with all the years that show something Louboutin has achieved. The demographic/physographic of Christian Louboutin’s target customers are high-fashion women in their 20’s that are willing to spend large amounts of money on shoes. The women wearing the shoes are looking for how the shoes make their body appear. Actress, Blake Lively, loves her Louboutins so much that the designer named a shoe after her. Women love Christian Louboutin’s shoes because they are flattering to their bodies. His shoes are designed to flatter women’s feet and calves, making them more appealing to wear. Many celebrities and high-fashion women wear his shoes on the red carpet and other special events. The product price range of Christian Louboutin’s shoes can be anywhere from $500 to $7,000, which is why his shoes are usually worn by celebrities or high-fashion women. His shoe sizes range anywhere from sizes 6 through 10. Most of Christian Louboutin’s shoes are created from different types of leather, suede, and red lacquer for the soles. Leather and suede are two of the best fabrics for shoes because they tend to be


Vogel 5 the most durable yet appealing materials. Lacquer brings out the shininess of the bottom soles. Christian Louboutin’s shoes are still found and popular in the current marketplace. He has his own website with all of his current designs on it up for sale. Louboutin also has his own stores that specifically just sell his brand all over the world in several different countries. Other than that, his shoes can be found at department stores such as Barney’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Christian Louboutin’s consistent use of the shiny, red sole really captured my attention because the bottom of every single one of his shoes all look the same. I was really intrigued by the consistency with his designs. I was also fascinated that even though his shoe designs are so simple and basic, people pay large amounts of money for them. His shoe designs have influenced other shoe designers by setting a standard for women’s shoes. His designs influence other designers each season and some companies even make knock-off, cheaper versions of his shoes. “Over the years, Louboutin has continued to turn out season after season of imaginative footwear. "For inspiration, I often imagine a courtesan living out her life in a circus," he explained to Marie Claire magazine. He has turned his surrealistically beautiful shoes into an international success story. According to The New Yorker, he sells more than 500,000 pairs of his fabulous footwear each year. The cost of getting a pair of Louboutins can range from nearly $400 up to $6,000. Louboutin has stores around the world in addition to his Paris headquarters” (Biography.com).


6 Works Cited "Christian Louboutin Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. "Christian Louboutin." Voguepedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. Cosgrave, Bronwyn. "Christian Louboutin (French Designer)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. Li, Shan. "Christian Louboutin, YSL Both Claim Victory in Red-sole Shoe Case." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 06 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. N.d. Photograph. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web. <http://fabwomandaily.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/07/Portrait-Christian-par-Stephan-Gladieu5.jpg>. N.d. Photograph. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web. <http://www.unicornsunleashed.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/05/christian-louboutin-shoe-footwear-designer-teeteringheels1.jpg>.


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