When Christian Louboutin traveled to Bhutan, a small, landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas for the first time, he discovered a country where happiness is a national philosophy and development is measured by its people’s spiritual and emotional wellbeing. He recalls the experience as “like a child’s dream;” today, he counts King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun among his friends. During his first visit, he explored Bhutan’s mountains on which monasteries cling. The second time, he settled in the capital and explored the city. “I wanted to meet the locals and get to know their culture, way of life, and their traditions,” he recalls. “That’s when I discovered the Royal School of the 13 Royal Crafts of Bhutan. From there, I came up with the idea of having the students sketch to see what their skills could offer in terms of sculpture or embroidery on shoes.” The project began in 2013 and was completed this year. Its name: Loubhoutan, featuring eight hand-sculpted and hand-painted pieces made with traditional craftsmanship.
The designer stresses that it is a work made among equals. “The purpose was to let them express their own creativity and desires, or else it would have been an interpretation of their culture, which is only an idea people can have on a country and its culture.” Local flowers like magnolias and lotus, the Pato River, the Himalayan skyline, and traditional arabesques all serve as inspiration. One sandal is embellished with sculpted clouds and features a gradient making it go from turquoise to sky blue. Like his journey, Louboutin says, “The shoe is beautiful from every angle.”