Louboutin polishes up

Louboutin polishes up
Christian Louboutin, who sells about a million pairs of shoes a year, draws every shoe design on paper himself.

Christian Louboutin sells around a million pairs of his signature red-soled shoes - ready-to-wear heels are priced between $1,000 and $5,900 a pair - a year.

Now, the shoe designer is possibly peddling one of the most expensive nail polishes in the market. Priced at HK$450 (S$75) for 13ml (Tom Ford sells his for $48 for 12ml), the 31 Christian Louboutin Beaute Nail Colours are each inspired by a red-soled heel, such as Decollete and Lady Page. The signature shade? Rouge Louboutin (right), a vivid cherry red.

The lacquer comes in a faceted glass bottle topped with a gleaming 8-inch spike for a cap, the same dangerous height as the fetishistic heel of Louboutin's highest stiletto design, the Ballerina Ultima that was made for an exhibition.

The weighted spike cap / brush handle was also inspired by calligraphy brushes and offers a precise application. The polish promises to be as glossy and intense as shiny lacquer with two coats.

In Asia, the nail polish is currently available in Hong Kong boutiques; it will be stocked here by the middle of next year.

Louboutin was in town last month for a market visit. In an exclusive interview with Life! at the Raffles Hotel, he explained why his nail polish flacons look like objects of art: "I was always shocked by the beauty industry which talked so much about beauty, but so often, ugly things are produced.

"Not only is the content important, but every aspect of it needs to be beautiful and has to look like an object that you can decorate your dresser with, not something you want to throw out afterwards," said the 50-year-old in French-accented English.

The nail lacquer range is the first collection from Christian Louboutin Beaute, the brand's beauty category that was launched in July. He declined to give details, but said that more beauty products in different categories will be launched every season.

Nail polish, and in particular, a bright scarlet shade has always had a special place in Louboutin's heart. After all, his signature red soles are inspired by a bottle of red nail lacquer.

The year was 1992 and he felt something was missing from the prototype of his pop art-inspired Pensees heels. His assistant was painting her nails at the table then, so he grabbed her polish and painted the soles of the shoes red. And voila, the Louboutin signature was born.

The polish line was also a result of his frustration with the lack of colours that matched his striking heels and clutches.

"Whenever we shot our look books and have the models wearing a sandal or carrying a bag, there was always this moment when I would be thinking, it would be nice if we had a specific nail colour," said Louboutin, who was dressed simply in a bright turquoise T-shirt, taupe chinos and a pair of studded brown leather boat shoes.

"The nail colour could be the right neutral that showcases beautiful skin and nails, or to complement the shoes, like a perfect red with deep blue shoes."

His attention to detail explains why his heels have attained cult status.

He has a long list of high-profile clients, which includes celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Blake Lively and Beyonce, and socialite Daphne Guinness.

But at the interview, he refused to discuss them.

"I sometimes think of myself as a doctor and a dealer, as shoes are often an addiction for women. I fulfil the need and a good doctor never talks about his patients."

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