During a time of epic economic meltdown that brought the fashion and retail industry to its knees, one would think a luxury shoe brand whose prices hover mostly just under $1,000 (and reach up to five figures) wouldn't stand a chance. However, Christian Louboutin certainly proves that wrong by growing his business by double digits in 2009 -- a rough year for fashion and retail by any measure.
Louboutin reveals as much in the May issue of Vanity Fair, also claiming that, outside of a few celebrity discounts, he hardly ever gives shoes away -- meaning, of course, that women simply want them enough to shell out the cash. The shoes' soles alone -- rendered in bright red -- have in and of themselves a feverishly coveted status symbol, but an unexpected one. Alber Elbaz painted them over black when Louboutin designed a line for his collection a few years back and, of course, likely regretted the decision.
Louboutin really has seemed to tap into the gold mine of women's spending habits: beautiful, investment-piece shoes with an indirect identifier (the sole) that guarantees everyone will know they're the real deal. And who would've thought? Danielle Steel is his top customer with reportedly more than 6,000 pairs. (Sidebar: Has he even made 6,000 different styles over the course of his career? Perhaps she's got, like, 100 pairs of black pumps?)
On the other hand, don't think the man takes himself too seriously. Oddly enough, the Christian Louboutin website is like a haunted carnival, with bobble-head cut-outs of Louboutin floating around the Loubi Blog & Gossip page and a slightly terrifying chicken pop-up on the homepage of Louboutin World, chronicling the Life and Times of Mr. L.