Christian Louboutin is a name everyone knows, whether they are an avid shoe enthusiast or just a boyfriend who overheard his girlfriend wistfully pointing out some shoes on Instagram. Starting off with very little, Louboutin ignored his academic studies and started sketching shoes in his teens. He became successful working for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent as a freelance designer and then turned away from designing to work with Vogue. With no formal training, the designer learnt by meeting designers in the field and learning from ‘life’. Shoes have always remained Louboutin’s passion and is what the consumer links to him.
However, 2012 saw Louboutin endeavour into the ever-growing and undeniably popular world of beauty. In a joint venture with Ballature beauty; a company who have worked with Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden and Victoria’s Secret, the French designer decided to add luxury beauty products to his repertoire. At the time, the innovator and avant-grade Shoe God said, “The beauty adventure is a natural extension for someone like me, who likes to empower women and to be a part of creating beauty seems like the right next step.” Since then we have seen the luxurious ‘Rouge Louboutin’; a range of products in the iconic red pigment, in homage to the famous red bottom shoes. In addition to this, the collection offers a range of colours from a hot pink matte lipstick to nude and pastel nail varnishes, the brand caters for a range of skin types and tastes.
Most fashion brands nowadays have a side line in beauty, so it’s hardly revolutionary or shocking for this direction, but with its grandness and costly price tag, it’s only natural to wonder, is it worth the cost and the hype? Or is it just a novelty and a fad?
Interestingly, the nail varnish is as rich in history as it is in its pigment. The symbol now synonymous with Louboutin, began when the designer “grabbed an assistant’s nail polish and painted the sole”, which created a “pop”. Hence, his introduction into the beauty market via a nail product seems ever so fitting. Priced at a considerable £36, the nail varnish is described as a “vibrant red colour… suited to every skin colour.” Meanwhile, the lip colour intends to be as sensuous as the brand’s shoes, advertised as, “luxurious colour, sensuous feel and superior wear” containing, “a complex of natural oils and seed butters”. Costing £60 per lipstick the hefty price tag promises luxury and grandiosity.
Perhaps the most alluring and grand feature of the collection itself is the distinctive lush packaging. The Rouge Louboutin nail varnishes comes in a faceted bottle with a pointed cap so tall it’s the equivalent of the Ballerina Ultima; Louboutin’s highest heel at 8 inches. If the colour, pigment and wearability doesn’t appeal, the stunning packaging is sure to appease customers. The lipstick is surrounded by a glamorous gold metal bullet topped with a shimmering lid threaded with a silky gold ribbon and sits pretty in a sleek black box. Both the products are finished with an embossed signature of the designer’s iconic name.
Whether it’s a ploy to capitalise off a very popular market industry or a genuine progression into a side venture, Louboutin Beauty is yet to prove its worth in the beauty world. After all, it’s hardly known for its amazing colours or wearability, but more for its appearance. Whether it’s a gift, a Tumblr and Instagram worthy product to show off on your dressing table or a part of a collector’s capsule, one is left wondering if that’s all the collection offers. If a budget lipstick with similar pigment, formula and the same wearability can do the job, you’re left paying for just the packaging. As glam and luxurious as it may be, is it worth breaking the bank for an item that you won’t want to use or wear to merely sit? It also alludes to the question of ‘paying for the name’. Even high end brands such as, MAC and Estee Lauder don’t have items that cost so excessively. From a business and marketing point of view, capitalising on the immense success of the shoes for which the brand is undeniably known and recognised worldwide, the breakthrough into beauty seems inevitable and irrational to dismiss. However, from a consumer’s viewpoint, the hype is undoubtedly questionable and subjective.
Jasmin Vincent & Rukaiyah Dadhiwala