5 Questions for Christian Louboutin

Twenty years looks good on Christian Louboutin.

The footwear icon, who recently celebrated his label’s milestone anniversary, isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The curtain will soon go up on his new show, “Feu,” at the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris on March 5. The red-sole king is serving as the troupe’s first guest creator, directing four original tableaux for which he collaborated on everything from the dancers’ footwear to the choreography. And as with all his projects, Louboutin said he is totally immersed in the production.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “[After this trip to New York], I was originally planning to go straight to Brazil, but I decided to fly back to Paris for just one day to do another rehearsal because I have so much in mind. I love to be challenged.”

And coming up, Louboutin also will mount a retrospective starting May 1 at London’s Design Museum.

Most recently, the designer commemorated his label’s 20 years with fêtes on both U.S. coasts, a special capsule collection that premiered at Bergdorf Goodman and a design competition with students from Parsons The New School for Design.

The parties and projects have been a good way to start the new year for Louboutin, who has faced legal woes in his fight against Yves Saint Laurent to defend the trademark on his signature red sole. And while he declined to speak about the ongoing litigation, Louboutin talked with Footwear News about “Feu,” his proudest achievements and why that red sole is still so significant.

Looking back on the past two decades, what has been your biggest accomplishment?
I’m proud of remaining free. I’m proud of my little adventure started with my two best friends, and that 20 years later we are still best friends. [The label] is a story of friendship and freedom, and I like the fact that [the two are] combined. I’ve heard many times that you shouldn’t work with friends because you end up having problems, but I am living proof that you can start a company with very little, and with friends, and you can build a great adventure.

You are fiercely defending your signature red sole against YSL. Why are you so passionate about that particular color?
It is interesting because red has no bad connotation in any country. White, for instance, is the color of marriage in Western culture, but in India it is the color of death. Red doesn’t say the same thing in every country, but it is always [associated with] positive [things]. And to me, [Chinese red] is the only red.

Where do you seek inspiration when designing a new season’s collection?
I go to a hot country when I’m designing my summer collections, and I go to a cold country for the winter collections. I am quite influenced by two things: climate and light. I am really a day person and a light person. I need to work during the day, and the climate is important. I can’t do fur boots on the beach with coconuts. I just can’t do that.

What has your experience with Crazy Horse been like so far?
It’s a great thing. Showgirls were actually my first [design inspiration], so it’s really funny that after so many years of having [created footwear] for showgirls in my imagination, I ended up really working with them. At the beginning I thought mostly in terms of shoes, but little by little the shoe faded and I looked at [the project] like I do my [footwear] designs. A design needs to be good, but it needs to fade into the woman, and [this show] is a perfect example of that. The real challenge has been to combine everything so it all clicks. It’s like doing a movie. You have the actors, you have the music, you have the sound, and you have the directing. It’s a lot of things I’ve never worked on before, but I’m quite excited.

Will we see you on stage at Crazy Horse?
No way. They are trying to push me [to perform], but there is no way. This is not happening [laughs].

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