Shoe designer Christian Louboutin celebrated his twentieth year in business yesterday with the launch of a retrospective exhibition at London's Design Museum.
Louboutin, 49, is heralded as one of the fashion industry's visionaries when it comes to footwear, having made his mark on the red carpet and high street alike with his conspicuous and characteristic red lacquered sole, which be found peeping out from underfoot in many a paparazzi shot.
The idea came to him in 1993, as he inspected a prototype and found it lacking. A nearby assistant, painting her nails crimson, inspired him to re-colour the sole that colour – a trick that has worked both as a marketing device and a design signature. Over the years, Louboutin has battled various other labels (most recently, Yves Saint Laurent) for copyright terms of this, his most famous element.
Louboutin finds inspiration in everything from extoic dancers to exotic travel, incorporating elements of burlesque and unashamed feminine glamour.