Why all shoes from the iconic footwear label must have their signature red soles. And why women are so obsessed by them
BY NABANITA DUTT
Back when in 1993, French footwear designer Christian Louboutin was rather displeased with the sample of his newest product: the Pensée shoe. Its design – inspired by Andy Warhol’s Flowers – was as fun and flirty as the pop legend would have liked it, with a sweet pansy sitting atop the buckle, forcing the extreme silhouette of the high-stiletto Pensée pump to live and laugh a little.
But…something still was missing. Louboutin couldn’t explain to himself why this beautiful prototype wasn’t sparking an instant love affair in his creative mindscape.
At that fateful moment in time, Sarah, a member of Louboutin’s staff, was sitting nearby, quite out of context, painting her nails with red lacquer.
In spontaneous action – the sort that elevates quicksilver talent to marketable genius – Louboutin grabbed Sarah’s bottle of nail polish and proceeded to paint the sole of the Pensée shoe with red. The impact was…well, we all know what the impact was, because a pair of Louboutins would be unrecognizable today without its signature red soles.
Just imagine the variety of subliminal messages a pair of Louboutin red sole shoes has the power to convey:
Like the lingering trail of a heady perfume, the soles on a departing woman’s Louboutin shoes extend her feminine magic in primeval red, the color of the sexual root chakra, that pitches men into spasms of bedroom fantasies, even if she’s only going to the restroom to relieve herself.
In this equation, the `feminine’ red soles become predatory. It’s no secret that for any group social gathering, a woman dresses to be admired by men and critiqued by women.
A pair of Louboutin shoes with signature red bottoms conveys a powerful warning to the attending female pack: underestimate me, b-word, at your own peril…
It’s pure boudoir politics, whichever way you want to cut it. But it works. And it works so well that Louboutin’s red soles have become a focal element in his iconic shoe designs from thereafter.
An almost lyrical underscore for the 120+ mm eveningwear stiletto heels he single-handedly reintroduced to fashion in the 1990s. Sleek, sexy, Louboutin cats, each winning pair of them, arching and stretching their gracefully elongated backs. With a full-blooded red, Louboutin underbelly.
LOUBOUTIN RED SOLE TRIVIA
♦ ◊ ♦ Louboutin’s red-bottom color code is registered as 18-1663 TPX in the Pantone color chart.
♦ ◊ ♦ The signature Louboutin red soles are called “Sammy Red Bottoms”.
Christian Louboutin’s single biggest client is bestselling author Danielle Steel, who is reputed to own over 6,000 pairs.
♦ ◊ ♦ Jennifer Lopez’s single “Louboutins” (2009) was inspired by the footwear.