HE’s celebrating 25 years of his eponymous label this year and far from scaling things back, Christian Louboutin is raring to go. Case in point: the forthcoming launch of his latest project, a collaboration with Indian haute couture designer – and Bollywood favourite – Sabyasachi Mukherjee. The exclusive collection sees 15 women’s styles and four menswear styles created using sarees and ribbons from Mukherjee’s atelier archive – cut-offs which have been kept and treasured – making each pair totally original and totally unique.
“The way we started to work together was very organic – very Indian, in a way,” Louboutin told us. “What happened is that Mukherjee asked me if I could do shoes for his couture fashion shows in India, after we met randomly by accident in his Mumbai store. We started to collaborate, integrating my shoes in his shows and from that it was a natural step for me to do this collection. In his studio, where the embroidery is created, it’s basically a type of Ali Baba cave – a profusion of colours, of beads, and of beauty in general. It’s unreal, you have a lot of beautiful things which are sort of just put on the side, leftovers of things. I thought, instead of wanting to create something very specific and new, it would be very nice to work around things which are already existing and doing a mosaic of all those little bits and pieces.”
The art of collaboration – an increasing trend among high-profile designers – is one which Louboutin holds dear. Speaking frankly about the importance of “marrying different points of view”, the famed footwear designer believes that’s it’s “nice to collaborate with people who are concerned with other things”. The beauty of working with Mukherjee also gave Louboutin the chance to get hands-on with Indian handcraft, which he calls the best in the world. “The luxuriance of Indian couture is unparalleled, things you see in India you see nowhere else,” he enthused. “I wanted the world outside of India to love it as I do.” So why, then, wait until now?
“When you reach some milestone dates like a quarter of a century, you sort of want to look back and see what has been interesting for yourself,” he explained. “Basically, when you are a bit successful in your work, you have access to different opportunities, try and experience different things and it’s not too dangerous for you. You have a sense that you can go in a new direction and if it doesn’t work, or it just isn’t interesting, you can just leave it on the side and move onto something else. It’s important to have a focus, but at the same time you can have variations and this is what I have found success is good for.”
While there are myriad reasons for his success, one key reason must be his believe in letting “things go with the flow”, as is the fact that the designer is happy to consider all manner of projects and unions that may come his way and recognises that it’s important “to accept that something you have never been thinking about could be interesting and to accept that meeting this person or that person can bring you a new wind and could be something which makes you excited”.
It’s a philosophical approach that comes courtesy of his father, a carpenter, who taught a young Louboutin that if he wanted to make beautiful things, he had to go in the direction of the grain, not against it as that’s when “you end up having splinters”.
“If you go in the direction of life, you have to go along with the direction it is taking you but sometimes the grain is not a straight line,” he explained. “I allow myself to let things come to me instead of giving to myself a direction that dictates to me. You don’t need to programme everything you do, but what does need to be programmed is to be receptive to different possibilities instead of narrowing yourself in one direction and this is how I approach the process for this collaboration.”
For Louboutin this means living life with “passion and enthusiasm because, just like love, it’s communicated through your enthusiasm and your passion in your work and therefore communicated to people who like your work too.” And it shows.
The collection will launch exclusively at Harrods, next Thursday October 11.