"Everything I am trying to do is about evoking an attitude," French designer Christian Louboutin told Luxury in 2016, at the launch of his first fragrances. "With shoes, it's the way you walk. For a bag, it's the way you hold it, the way it animates the upper body and the shoulders. Fragrance is the same thing. It is a trace, an attitude."
It has been four years since the famed footwear designer unveiled his initial trio of scents, the evocatively named Trouble in Heaven, Tornade Blonde and Bikini Questa Sera, and there have been no other releases since.
Until November 2, when Louboutin launched a suite of seven new perfumes. And this time around, they feel far more in line with the designer’s quirky, fun-loving approach. The Loubiworld collection is designed to reflect Louboutin’s multifaceted universe – one that is evocative and sensual, and informed by references from around the world.
Born in Paris in 1963 as the youngest child of a cabinetmaker, Louboutin had three older sisters. Rebellious and free-spirited, he left home at the age of 12, and after struggling at school, was eventually expelled. He later spent a year travelling around India, before returning to Paris in the mid-1980s to start working in the studio of Charles Jourdan, then a shoemaker for Christian Dior.
Louboutin eventually left the studio to become a freelance designer, working for brands including Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Roger Vivier. He credits the last of the three for teaching him about the importance and value of craftsmanship.
Blessed with a curious, open mind and a bold eye for pattern and colour, the designer also has a fun, mischievous streak. “It is very natural, it is very how I am. It is important that some things are dedicated to making people smile, to making them happy. I have really decided this is my mission. Fashion is one of the few segments of entertainment that has to be kept as an antidote.”
The new fragrances are housed in striking, sculptural bottles that are as important as the scent itself. In keeping with the soles that made his name, the receptacles are lacquered in red, with fantastical caps that come in the form of a pineapple for Loubifunk; a smug-looking cat clutching a lipstick for Loubidoo; and even, in the case of Loubirouge, one of the designer’s signature stilettos perched on top of a globe. The seven fragrances are available in 90ml bottles and are priced at Dh1,290 ($351).
The designer’s approach to fragrance is informed by an important lesson he learnt growing up surrounded by women. “I grew up with three sisters, three different characters, so I cannot reduce women to just one element,” Louboutin says.
“My sisters were different during the day, during the night… And that’s what I love about women, in general; there is no one straight character. Women have a lot of sides.”
The scents range from light to intense. Created in collaboration with Daphné Bugey, Loubicroc merges myrrh, cypriol and sandalwood for a spicy, Oriental scent. Loubicrown mixes cedar with patchouli and tonka bean accord; while the leathery, woody Loubiraj is a full-bodied blend of suede, cedar and pink pepper. Loubirouge attempts to condense the glamour and sensuality of those red soles into fragrant form, by combining cardamom, iris and vanilla. The joyful Loubifunk features rose, blackcurrant and patchouli; Loubikiss presents a bouquet of jasmine, tuberose and musk; while the fruity, floral Loubidoo mixes strawberry with opulent rose and cedar.
“This collection is a bit like following me inside my mind,” Louboutin says. “The fragrances are based on seven different quasi-imaginary lands, and each one presents itself to me with its own scent, colour, shape and materials.
“These lands are my own unique creation, they’re neither 100 per cent real nor 100 per cent fantastical. Often they are born from a memory that has lingered in my mind, usually sparked by a voyage, a story or a scent that I just couldn’t forget.
"This is what I shared with the perfumers, who helped create a fragrance for each of these places: the scent, the feeling, the memory that I have when I visit them in my imagination.”