A busy day of shaking hands and signing the famous Louboutin red soles culminated in a dinner at LACMA's Ray's & Stark Bar, where art was in motion as guests strutted past a canvas-covered wall being "tagged" by street artist Gallo Love.
Louboutin took a few minutes to chat about his love of global handicrafts, his upcoming gig at Crazy Horse in Paris and the trademark infringement case that has him seeing red.
Q: Does it feel like it's been 20 years?
A: It doesn't seem like that long. I don't see my company as a grown-up because I'm still so enthusiastic. I feel like it's a teenage company.
Q: Talk about this 20th anniversary collection. Is it a greatest hits collection?
A: Sort of. When I was working on my book (which celebrates his 20 years in business and is published this month), I realized there are certain ideas that always come back into my designs. For example, I have always loved showgirls and have done many things in reference to those birds of paradise. The Bow Bow (shoe) is about transparency, and the Havana Trash is what I imagine is on the floor at the Tropicana. I've always worked with artisans from different countries, as well as artists, like the 25-year-old graffiti artist Nicolas Michel who tagged some of our shoes. This collection is about all of those things.
Q: You tap into a global network of artisans for your designs. Can you share some of the styles from the anniversary collection that incorporate handicrafts?
A: On these sandals (the Copte style), this is a Coptic cross. These first were made by monks in the north of Egypt. I saw them there and asked if they could be reproduced. These gilded wood heels on the Bois Dore are done by a community in a village in Thailand.
Q: What's been the most popular shoe over the years?
A: The Very Prive and Numero Prive, which have a hidden platform, the Pigalle and the Simple Pump.
Q: You're working on a production opening in March at the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris, a collaboration with David Lynch and Swizz Beatz.
A: I stayed true to the DNA of Crazy Horse, which is about the embellishment of women, but also the strength of the lighting and repetition. The lighting is very special; it can provoke magic. A French cabaret going African, that's one number. Another number is about shadows and legs. Then there is a hip-hop finale. Mark Fast did the costumes.
Q: You are in the midst of what could be a long and drawn-out intellectual property case with Yves Saint Laurent over the right to use a China Red lacquered sole. What if the ultimate result isn't one you like?
A: I'm not going to hang myself, but I have to stand up for myself and for others. People come to me because they like the shoes but also because they love the story of a person who followed his dream and managed to stay independent for 20 years. What I see is a big company trying to break a small one.