Ballpark Estimate: $500 to $2,000+
If you’ve ever tried on a pair of Christian Louboutins, you know first-hand how beautiful the graceful, sculpted lines of the elegant shoes make your legs and feet look and feel. And many Louboutin devotees swear that the signature sky-high heels are not only lovely to look at but much more comfortable, too, than they appear.
An Array of Options
If you are in the market for Christian Louboutin shoes, there are so many elegant options from which to choose. Some of the most popular styles include classic pumps in smooth or patent leather with very high, thin heels. Many of them feature very stylized toe shapes with a slight platform lift for the ultimate in excellence. You can also find them with Mary Jane straps or sling back detailing in a rainbow of rich colors and textures. Or, if you prefer something more unique, you can also find delicate sandals crafted of crepe “petals” in the palest shade of pink, or with leather thongs that tie part-way up your leg, and boots layered in the finest rows of soft fringe. Some of the dressiest elegant satin pumps also feature sparkling rhinestone bands layered along the raised sole and heel. In addition, you can find unusual and beautiful chains, studs, bows and feather accents.
Reaching for New Heights
Many Louboutin shoes are extraordinarily high (think 4 to 6 inches), making walking in them quite a “feat”. . . or at least quite a strain on your feet. Recently, the designer even added an 8-inch heeled bootie to his range, which were touted as the “world’s highest shoes,” but critics point out that actually, other similarly high options have existed throughout the centuries, and have in fact been popular with professional strippers for many years. Some Louboutin fans do point out that the construction of Louboutin shoes, though, are made to make them easier to wear and to minimize strain on the wearer’s back.
The Making of a Legend
Christian Louboutin was born in France in 1963 and is said to have become obsessed with the silhouette of the stiletto heel at a young age. He credits watching Paris show girls in their fancy costumes and footwear for fueling this passion. He ultimately left school to pursue this interest, studying design and also traveling broadly. He landed an apprenticeship with famed shoemaker Roger Vivier, who is known for creating the stiletto heel and who taught Louboutin the craft of “building” a shoe. Louboutin also learned some of his design tricks under the tutorage of Chanel and Yves St Laurent, taking what he learned in these and other prestigious settings to eventually start his own brand. He opened his first boutique in Paris and his career took off from there.
While there are many beautiful shoes on the market today, you can instantly tell genuine Louboutins apart from other fine footwear by the dramatic red sole featured on each pair. All Louboutins have this tell-tale sign so when you wear a pair, others “in the know” will recognize that you, too, have exquisite taste, as well as enough money to afford the high price tag these luxurious shoes command.
Rumor has it that Louboutin came up with the signature red sole right before his first fashion show. According to fashion buffs, they say as he was getting ready to display his collection of shoes, he felt something was missing. He noticed one of his assistants painting her nails with red Chanel nail polish and grabbed the bottle and painted the red polish on the sole of each pair. The idea was a hit and he liked the effect so much that this became standard on his shoes from there.
While other manufacturers have since copied this design element, Louboutin is attempting to patent this detail as his trademark sole, although some critics don’t think his efforts while be successful. One fashion historian even points out that Louboutin didn’t actually pioneer this idea; red heels and sole edges were actually in vogue back in the 17th century among the upper class.
Many celebrities and fashionistas are die-hard Christian Louboutin fans. You will find some of the most popular actresses wearing his red-soled shoes in movies, on television shows, in music videos and in magazine photo spreads. They are also out in full force on the red carpet and at other special events. Princess Caroline of Monaco was one of his earliest, and most regal, clients. Among the many other well-known names that regularly are seen in Louboutins are Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie.
Where to Buy
There are currently a handful of exclusive Christian Louboutin boutiques in the United States, including two in New York. The famed footwear designer is also rumored to have several new locations planned to open in the near future. You can visit his very whimsical website and view the current collections and do a search for a store in your area. You can also shop for Louboutin shoes in many of the finest department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus.
What It Costs
The appeal of Louboutins comes at a steep price. The least expensive styles start in the $500 to $700 range. You can find strappy sandals (flat or with the architectural heels), and a wide array of leather pumps and wedge styles at this price point. Or, in the $800 to $1,000 range there are gladiator sandals, peep-toe pumps and a variety of patent leather and suede designs. You can also find very stylized styles embellished with crepe “feathers” for about $1,000.
If you have more money to spend, you can find a variety of exquisite options that go on up to about $2,000. At this high end, there is an elegant display of pumps, sandals and boots crafted from the highest quality python, rich satin, metallic and unusual suede designs. In addition, a Louboutin pump made of the finest alligator skin available at Barneys costs a shocking $4,645.
Finally, with shoes this amazing, you may want a Louboutin purse to match. A sculptural satin evening clutch available at Neiman Marcus is $795, while a bigger Louboutin handbag at the same store costs $1,995 and is perfect for everyday use.
So you can expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 to walk in Louboutin’s footsteps (literally), although higher options do exist.
Of course if money is unlimited, there is one other option to consider: ordering custom-made Louboutins to perfectly fit your style and your foot. The price for this decadence ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on what you select.
Style at Any Size
The fashion press reports that Louboutin’s popularity these days is very wide spread. In fact, the footwear designer was recently tapped to design a pair of hot pink pumps for Mattel Inc.’s popular Barbie doll, who will be having a runway show to celebrate her 50th birthday.
If you can’t afford your own pair of Louboutin pumps, there is one other way to achieve the elegant look: with a “Louboutin Manicure.” Many nail salons are copying the signature Louboutin look by combining black nail polish with the back-side of the nail painted bright red.