You don’t have to convince Christian Louboutin that sex sells. The shoe designer, who this year celebrated his company’s 20th anniversary, is known for his sky-high heels that come adorned in feathers, crystals, silk tassels and other whimsical embellishments. When we profiled Louboutin in the spring issue of TIME Style & Design, the designer told writer William Lee Adams: “Shoes have to seem of sex. It makes part of the identity of my shoes.” Later in the piece, Louboutin likened the arch of a high heel to a woman’s foot position when she orgasms.
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Though flashy and sexy, Louboutin’s shoes aren’t necessarily comfortable, a fact that doesn’t bother the Paris-based designer. During a panel discussion this weekend at the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan, Louboutin reiterated that he doesn’t want customers to think “how comfortable” when presented with his shoes. (Earlier this year, he told Grazia magazine: “If Tina Turner and Prince’s back-up band can perform on stage in them for three hours, you can’t tell me they are impossible to walk in. High heels are pleasure with pain.”)
Louboutin’s disinterest in comfort is part of the reason he says he’ll never design a clog. “When I hear a clog, I’m expecting a donkey,” he said. Fair enough.
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