Christian Louboutin went back to school on Thursday.
The designer delivered a commencement speech to the Fashion Institute of Technology’s graduating class in New York.
FIT Board of Trustees member and Vice Chair Robin Burns-McNeil awarded Louboutin with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in recognition of his contribution to the fashion industry over the course of his career.
Speaking to the students, Louboutin stressed the importance of following their passions and living well, noting three key themes: the power of friendship, the freedom to pursue all options and the significance of leaving doors open.
On building his shoe empire, Louboutin said, “I started my business 23 years ago with my two best friends … and 23 years after, we are still three best friends.”
He added that everyone should live by their own set of rules.
“I started my company at the end of , which was probably the worst time. It was the end of the Gulf War, the economy worldwide was a disaster, it was really super stupid to start [a business] at that time,” he said. “But I thought if you have to listen to something, it [should be] your inner timing [and] not the timing of the world [as] there is never very good timing.”
In closing, Louboutin said, “Feel good and feel great to live your passion, something you like so much that you can’t not share it with the rest of the world.”
FIT President Joyce Brown lauded the designer for his influence and contribution to the design world when conferring the honorary degree. “Your blend of artistic expression, coupled with the practical imperatives of business, make you a true role model for our students,” she said.