Filmmaker Michael Waldman and his crew trailed the shoe designer Christian Louboutin for a whole year to make this flattering documentary on the man behind the world’s most expensive and highly sought-after shoes. Louboutin’s beginnings may have been humble but from the moment he turned his attention to designing shoes, his life has been anything but that. In fact the very first customer through the doors of his first store in 1991 was none other than Princess Caroline of Monaco, and this was very indicative of the circles he now moves in.
Accompanied everywhere by Safquat his Bangladeshi butler, even when he is whizzing around Paris on his Vespa, his faithful manservant trails behind on his own scooter, ready to swap his helmet for more fashionable headwear so Louboutin is ready for his next glamorous appointment. Even at a photo shoot for his latest collection, the photographer turns out to be a real Princess too.
Waldman’s cameras even capture Louboutin’s visit to the tiny kingdom of Bhutan where he is having local artisans develop a whole range of hand painted wooden shoes. When asked who he thinks will be the customers for them, Louboutin is very vague in his answers. He is however a little more effusive when the Bhutan workshop has a royal visitor. Because of protocol the workers are not allowed to look directly at the Queen, but as she is a personal friend she greets Louboutin effusively, and afterwards whisks him back to the Palace with her.
Louboutin does have to share the limelight in the film with his extraordinary wonderful red-soled shoes. They are unquestionably exquisite and as he shows the latest ones to Hamish Bowles of American Vogue, both men’s faces light up with sheer joy looking at the minute detail of Louboutin’s designs. It is all very befitting for shoes that cost from $900 to $9000 a pair. There is a scene in the Paris store with a wealthy woman from Shanghai trying on new shoes and admitting that she has no idea how many pairs she owns already, but it is definitely several hundred she confesses.
Louboutin has topped the Luxury Institute’s annual Luxury Brand Status Index for three years and he has personally done very well out of the success. He may like to stress the simplicity of the fisherman’s cottage he owns in Portugal where he loves to design, but he and his partner of 20 years landscape architect Louis Benech, also have a house in Paris, a palace in Aleppo, a house boat on the Nile, a house in Luxor. Additionally, he shares a 13th-century castle in the Vendée with his business partner Bruno Chamberlain.
Louboutin is quite the charmer, and aware that his lifestyle may come over as being seen as more than a tad extreme, he very self-effacingly says at the beginning “You are going to see a documentary about someone who’s been loving what he’s doing, but he’s doing something totally useless.” However if one agrees with him or not, it does all make for thoroughly entertaining viewing.