Sole Mate

Christian Louboutin and the psychology of shoes.

Lauren Collins

Louboutin at his Paris atelier.

Louboutin at his Paris atelier. “A shoe has so much more to offer than just to walk,” he says. Photograph by Benoît Peverelli.

One afternoon in early March, the shoe designer Christian Louboutin decided to go for a ride on his Vespa. He had just had lunch at a brasserie near his office. The bike, a navy-blue model, was parked by the curb. Louboutin put on a helmet. He pushed the visor up and mounted the machine. I got on behind him. We accelerated tipsily and zoomed off into Paris traffic, dodging bollards and side mirrors.

Louboutin opened up the throttle on Rue de Rivoli. The day was bright and cold. My eyes were tearing. There was a carrousel, a stripy blur. Somewhere in the Second Arrondissement, a traffic light turned red. Louboutin idled at the intersection. Two women came around a corner, unwitting participants in a street-corner défilé. One of them was pushing a wheelchair. Her passenger had a blanket over her lap and, on her feet, a pair of golden shoes that, glinting in the sunlight, looked as though they were encrusted with coins.

The scene, Louboutin said, was “something out of Buñuel.”

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