LONDON (Reuters) - French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, famed for his glossy red-soled shoes, defended his decision to go to court with fashion label Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) and its parent company PPR to protect his trademark look on Monday.
Dressed in a smart red checked jacket, jeans and steel-toed leather shoes, Louboutin was in London to open his first UK retrospective to mark the brand’s 20th anniversary at the Design Museum.
Louboutin told Reuters that the PPR Group were being extremely unfair in the court battle over red soled shoes.
“They lead out of luxury and they should know that luxury has identity signatures” he said.
A U.S. court rejected a request by Louboutin to stop the sale of YSL shoes that are red all over, including the soles.
“It’s very hypocritical because they themselves...own colors. I just don’t understand how you can say well, you cannot own a specific color on a specific place when you yourself own different colors.
“I’m a self-made person, I’ve run my own company for 20 years and this big massive group is able to hammer me, with the biggest amount of lawyers. They try to damage me, my company and it’s extremely unfair especially someone that I knew, who I thought was a friend, who just happened to be a very weak person,” he added.
The designer unveiled hundreds of pairs of shoes that he had created over the years, saying the journey had been “emotional” for him.
“If you integrate so much of your life, your professional life, your personal life, there is no way you cannot not be emotional about it,” Louboutin said.
The designer also defended his previous comments that women who cannot walk in his shoes, shouldn’t wear them and that wearing high heels is both pleasure and pain.
“When I do a shoe, I don’t want to evoke comfort...saying that suffering to be beautiful, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t give you nice smiles, that’s a sure thing.”
The exhibition “Christian Louboutin” features some of the designer’s most successful designs as well as his more creative interpretations such as crystal encrusted ballet slippers with an eight-inch heel for the English National Ballet.
His atelier in Paris was also recreated for the exhibition, displaying shoes and items from his travels that inspired Louboutin to create his collections.
In the corner hangs a blue trapeze that the designer famously likes to dangle from.
The retrospective is aimed at celebrating not only Louboutin’s designs but also his creativity and origins of his inspiration such as the showgirls at Folies Bergère where he worked in his teens.
“When I design for a women, I always think of her naked,” the designer said cheekily. “And I haven’t yet met a girl who wants to have shorter legs.”
Reporting by Cindy Martin, Li-mei Hoang, Editing by Paul Casciato