Christian Louboutin On Expanding His Beauty Empire
From shoes to nail polish to lipstick and now fragrances—Christian Louboutin knows how to woo women. He tells us how his sisters helped inspire the heady trio of scents he has just launched.
"She is quite chic, you know,” says Christian Louboutin of one of his Parisian friends, and I’m immediately intimidated by a mental image of a perfectly cool amalgamation of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Clémence Poésy. “Anyway, so my friend, she is going to a dress-up party and decides to be a trashy cowgirl,” he continues in his thick Gallic accent. “Usually she is very fashionable, so it is not her typical look. She wears the denim miniskirt, the fake nails, the blue eyeshadow—everything. So I say, ‘Are you going to wear cheap fragrance too?’ And she looks at me in horror and replies, ‘Mais non—I could never go that far.’ You see, clothes you can change, shoes you can change, but fragrance, it is the very essence of you.”
Louboutin is a man who knows about a woman’s essence. Growing up in Paris with four sisters, his life’s work has been about celebrating femininity through his famously sexy shoes, which are recognisable the world over thanks to their almost pornographic red soles that give a quick flash of scarlet as their owners sashay away. “I am fascinated by sensuality,” he says. “To be a woman is a great gift, and there is nothing more wonderful than someone who is confident and playful with her femininity. I think it is innate to so many women and I love to observe it.”
After two-and-a-half decades of making our feet more feminine, Louboutin has turned his attention to our beauty regimes, starting with his range of Rouge Louboutin nail polish, which was launched in 2014 and is so beautifully packaged that many women are known to keep the barb-topped bottles on their dressing tables long after they are empty. In 2015 came a series of lipsticks housed in equally striking packaging and designed to be worn around the neck like an amulet. And Paris Fashion Week in September saw the launch of his first fragrance collection.
Refusing to settle for just one scent, Louboutin has released a trio of whimsically named heady floral fragrances called Bikini Questa Sera, Tornade Blonde and Trouble in Heaven. “Appreciation of beauty comes naturally to me—I am passionate about it,” he says. “And there is something mystical about the beauty of fragrance. Smell has a big impact on us all; it can be anything from sexy to playful and it’s a real exposé of who we are. I would never suggest a man buys a woman a new fragrance, it’s too intimate.”
The three distinctive fragrances cater to the many different moods of the Louboutin woman. Tornade Blonde is a light, girlish day scent of red roses, violet and cassis. Bikini Questa Sera is headier and created for hot summer nights in Saint-Tropez and Portofino, thanks to heart notes of jasmine and tuberose. Trouble in Heaven, meanwhile, is the most distinctively Louboutin of the trio: aromatic and sensual with notes of iris, patchouli and amber. It’s designed to be worn to a glamorous urban party with a sexy dress and a pair of sky-high Louboutin heels.
“All women want to change their scent according to the weather, the time of day or just their mood,” says Louboutin. “That’s why these three fragrances are so different. I don’t wear the same cologne in Egypt as I do in Paris, and I know my customers wouldn’t wear the same fragrance in the morning as the evening, or on holiday compared to the city. I was brought up around women. I had three older sisters who were all very different characters and yet I would see them change so much through the day—if they had a new boyfriend, a new job, a new friend. Even the way they applied their perfume changed from when they were going for an interview compared to when they were preparing for an evening with a man. For me, everyone has many personas and fragrance is a way to celebrate that.”
Louboutin’s eye is naturally drawn to design and, much like his other beauty products, the packaging of these fragrances is just as impressive as the content. For his first foray into the perfume world, Louboutin decided to swap the stiletto references for a more architectural shape—and who could be a more competent design partner than the renowned architect Thomas Heatherwick? Famous for his bold urban infrastructure and iconic sculptures, the Briton has collaborated with Louboutin to create one of the most distinctive perfume bottles in recent years. All sensual undulation and twisted surfaces, the bottle is a complicated design of blown glass loops that forces the perfume to flow around a central aperture.
“I love the shape of the bottles. They remind me of a César or an Oscar,” says Louboutin, referring to the trophies of the French and US film industry awards. “Packaging is as important to me as the product itself—inside and outside must be equally sensual. I have always had a big love of objects from my family. My father was a carpenter and I learned from him to be detail-orientated in everything I do. In my shops I create the perfect environment for shoes. And now I try to create a beautiful environment for a beautiful fragrance.”
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com