The Christian Louboutin designer brand was launched in November 1991, and this was quickly followed by the opening of his first boutique in Paris. The store soon caught the attention of Parisian socialites visiting neighbouring antiques dealers and secured Louboutin’s ensuing success. One of his first customers was Princess Caroline of Monaco who was spotted in the new designer’s shop by a fashion journalist. The editorial coverage that followed hugely raised Louboutin’s profile. In the early 1990s Louboutin felt that the design of his shoes lacked the fizz and energy that he was looking for so he applied an assistant’s crimson nail polish to the sole of a shoe. And so was born his trademark shiny lacquered red sole.
Another early Louboutin design was the Egg pump, a shape that focused on a much maligned area of the foot which Louboutin felt was the most sensual; the inside curve of the arch. Louboutin raised his profile with fashion lovers outside Paris with his Inseperables; a term he used to describe a single word or theme which ran from one shoe design to the next.
During the early nineties, Louboutin ‘LO’‘VE’ shoes became an ‘it’ shoe. They featured the word curled across the front of the shoe in a contrasting colour to the main body of the shoe.
In 1994, Louboutin’s first shop in New York City opened.
By the mid 90s, Louboutin was creating footwear for both the couture and ready-to-wear collections. Ateliers who used Christian Louboutin shoes included Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Chloé, Lanvin and Victor & Rolf.
In 1996, Louboutin received a Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY) Award from the International Fashion Group. It was not until around this time, after he had been in business for over fifteen years that Louboutin passed over the managerial rights of his company to an assistant. Previously he had overseen the production of every single pair of shoes - an extraordinary feat for such a famous and respected designer.
Also during this year, Louboutin designed a collection of shoes with transparent Lucite heels, in which flower petals or other objects were suspended. For one patron, the French film star Arielle Dombasle, he enclosed a love letter from her philosopher husband accompanied by a lock of his hair and a quill.
At Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘Farewell to Haute Couture’ show in 2002, Louboutin created a shoe for the emotional finale. Referred to as Christian Louboutin for Yves Saint Laurent 1962-2002, it remains the only time Saint Laurent associated his name with that of another designer.
In 2003, the first Christian Louboutin handbag line was launched.
In a collaboration with David Lynch in 2007, a Christian Louboutin collection of shoes featured in the exhibition Fetish, which encompassed an array of seductive one-off objects and fetish items photographed by Lynch. In the same year, Louboutin also filed for U.S trademark protection of his signature red sole.
In 2008, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology mounted a comprehensive retrospective of Louboutin’s work. Later that year, he received a second FFANY Award.
Christian Louboutin dominated The Luxury Institute’s annual Luxury Brand Status Index from the mid 2000s onwards, winning Most Prestigious Women’s Shoes every year from 2007 to 2010.