Long before women were getting creative with nail art, Christian Louboutin had already aced that arts and crafts project. “I grabbed a bottle of red nail polish from my assistant and painted it onto the bottom of a shoe. That was the start of my trademark red sole,” says the famed footwear designer, who is unveiling a collection of nail polishes, housed in chic, spiked bottles, at Saks Fifth Avenue. The range features 31 shades (at $50 a pop), including Rouge Louboutin, which is inspired by the color of his iconic red soles. “If there’s one nail shade a woman should wear, it’s this one,” he says. Here, our beauty director Kahlana Barfield catches up with Mr. Louboutin himself.
What drove your decision to enter the beauty market?
I wanted to go back to my roots, since my signature red sole started from a bottle of red nail polish. Also, I've always found myself questioning what color nails the woman would wear with my shoes—especially my sandals. I thought, It would be great to create the exact colors I always imagine. So this nail collection will sort of complete that image.
How has creating nail polish been similar to designing shoes?
It’s similar in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to designing the silhouette of the shoe and the nail polish bottle. It’s all about attention to detail. The process starts with sketching and looking at angles.
Speaking of the bottle, the stiletto-like cap is brilliant.
I wanted it to look like an art object. My father was a carpenter, so I come from a background of craftsmanship. It was very important for me to make something beautiful. Just think of the word “beauty.” I couldn’t enter the territory with something ugly!
That you didn’t!
I also wanted the bottle to be something that required a woman to take her time with her nails. I wanted the pace to be reduced. It’s almost like a calligraphy pen that you use to gracefully write on your nails.
There are 31 polishes in the collection. Tell me about Rouge Louboutin, your signature red shade.
CL: It mimics the color of my red sole, but more importantly, it’s flattering on everyone. That was crucial to me. We worked really hard and tested it on every skin tone until we got it right.
They say the sex is in the heel. Would you say the same for nails?
CL: It’s not the heel that’s sexy; it’s the way the woman walks in the heel. The same goes for nails: It’s not the length of the nail; it’s the gestures and expressions a woman makes with her hands that’s seductive.
Christian Louboutin's nail polish collection is now available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and select Sephora stores.
1. The Nudes
Louboutin's nude hues, named after a capsule collection from the designer, will complement various skin tones.
2. Lady Page
"This shade is inspired by Bettie Page. Bettie had that jet-black hair, so I wanted the color to be as dark as possible but not black, which can look harsh on hands. I went with a deep, dark purple. It reminds me of eggplant. There's just something sensual about it."
"Sevillana is a type of dance from the South of Spain. It incorporates a lot of gestures—grabbing your dress, hand movements—so it was one of the first things that came to mind when I was developing nail polish. The shade is dark red and it reminds me of both passion and death. It's like, 'I love you, so get away!' "
4. Tres Decollete
"This shade is inspired by a Scottish friend of mine. She has very pale skin and beautiful breasts; she's proud of her breasts, so she wears low necklines! I was thinking of her cleavage when I came up with the name. The shade is a delicate pink. It's for all of the confident women, the Proud Marys."
"The name is in reference to Bangladesh, which is north of India. When I think of India, I think of roses and beautiful carnations. The shade is a strong pink—perfect to wear to a bridal shower or on a shopping day with girlfriends."
6. Zoulou"This shade is named after my business partner, Zoulou, who is my oldest friend. It's a nude shade that's similar to the color of her skin. She's half Nigerian and half Caucasian, so she has a bit of a cappuccino complexion. The nail shade is great for a woman who wants to feel at ease and groomed in an understated way."