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High on red


Author Danielle Steel owns over 6, 000 pairs, Lady Gaga goes shopping in them, Beyonce flaunts them at basketball games - there's something about the ruby-soled shoes that the A-listers just can't resist. And now, after globetrotting across 19 countries, Louboutin has finally walked into India.

French shoemaker Christian Louboutin has had a long association with India. He began traveling to the country at the age of 15 and ever since India has been a constant source of inspiration. In a video interview posted on the company website, Christian talks about how his dot designs have been inspired by the beautiful dots drawn on foreheads of Indian brides, an image that has stuck with him over years.

Also, much before deciding on a store here, Christian had already collaborated with third-generation French embroider Jean-Francois Lesage, who developed India-inspired designs for CL at his Chennai-based atelier which resulted in two collections and the Mary Antoinette edition for the brand.

Considering the old association, Indian fans can complain that the shoe artist has arrived 20 years too late. But now that the outlet has opened at New Delhi's luxury shopping mall DLF Emporio, it does save fashionistas the trouble of taking an international flight for the sexy, sky-high heels, many topping five inches.

Those iconic red soles were the result of one of those eureka moments. Christian was designing a pair of shoes but he couldn't seem to get it right. "It took me a while to figure out. It was because the sole was black. I grabbed my assistant Sarah's nail polish and painted the soles red. " Interestingly, CL is currently fighting a court battle with YSL for exclusive right to use the 'China red' shade.

Having completed two decades since CL's first store opened in Paris, India was very much part of the brand's retail expansion plan. But though it's been in the offing for some time now, CL was more intent on finding the perfect store location and design than on rushing into a quick launch, a company spokesperson told TOI-Crest on email.

Though there were reports of Louboutin launching a Bollywood collection for the India store, he hasn't done so. Among the popular international styles available are the Pigalle in its variations of metal spikes and Mexican beads, Daffodil, statement spiked evening clutch, and Gareth, the metal-toed men's dress shoe. With use of jeweled straps, feathers, metal and gold, CL shoes are more suited to evening-wear.

Having seen numerous Bollywood films (funnily enough, he also did a cameo in one during one of his many visits here), Christian loves the extravagance and unbridled creativity in film costumes. Hence, it was only natural that the flamboyance of Bollywood would inspire at least one shoe - the peep-toe "Bollywoody". Admiration for India also created the Loubis Angels clutch and these designs only happen to coincide with the launch of the India store.

Disappointingly, the Bollywoody shoe is not available yet and store managers say it will be a while before it arrives. Meanwhile, this hasn't deterred shoppers and Louboutins are flying off the shelves faster than anyone anticipated.

The shoes are pricey - you will have to shell out Rs 1, 36, 500 to own a Bollywoody while the most expensive is a blingy Daffodile Strass at upwards of Rs 3 lakh - but that doesn't deter its ardent fans who are willing to shell out for the honour of tottering on those heels while others go red in sheer envy. But as sinful as it may sound to a Louboutin connoisseur, many Indian customers have asked for flats at the store. While the brand does offer some low-heeled styles, these are few.
As the shoe god puts it himself "There ain't no high heel high enough. "

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