A Portuguese Pied-à-Terre with Christian Louboutin

A Portuguese Pied-à-Terre with Christian Louboutin

From a fireplace adorned with cherubim to brassy bespoke candelabras to precious one-off paintings licked by golden curlicues, we explore Lisbon through the storied objects in Christian Louboutin’s home.

– dubbed “The City of Seven Hills” – is topographically
challenging, particularly for those teetering around in
vertiginously high Louboutin heels. Still, here I am in the
westernmost capital of mainland Europe (red-lacquered soles stowed
in my carry-on), en route to visit the Paris-born designer
Christian Louboutin at his second home. Hitting the inclining
cobblestone pavements in the direction of the Alfama district,
sporting a more practical – if slightly plain Jane-esque – pair of
pumps, I am reconciled by the knowledge that the majority of this
afternoon will be a stylish and shoe-dominated affair.

Originally a halfway house for trips between Paris
and his Portuguese seaside abode in Melides, Lisbon was once little
more than a convenient pied-à-terre for Louboutin. Now things have
changed somewhat, although he still doesn’t sketch here. “I draw by
the beach. I do the summer collections in hot places [he designs
the majority of such collections in
] and the winter collections in a cold place. The climate
affects me, but the environment itself is not that important.”

It would be natural to assume that creative environments may
have, to varying degrees, impacted Louboutin’s output throughout
the course of his career – consider his notebooks full of
outrageous, toe-cleavage exposing shoes sketched by the then
17-year-old and aspiring designer while working at the Folies
Bergère in Paris. While sexiness has been his long-standing bread
and butter, there is something more nubile about his collections of
late and, if my current surrounds are anything to go by, the
designer is certainly leaning toward the more eclectic.

A collector of objets d’art, and a creator of them too,
Louboutin has a penchant for antiques and is regularly spotted
perusing oddities and artisanal items across European cities. He
picks up a lot of handcrafted pieces on his afternoon antique
appraisals, and with homes in various international outposts, there
is little shortage of spaces in which to place them. To fresh eyes,
Louboutin’s energy-infused, storied home in Lisbon is a
representation of his personality, his countless travels and varied
interests. Here, his appreciation of savoir faire and craftsmanship
is palpable. “My father was an artisan, a cabinet maker, a
carpenter. When I was a child, I didn’t realise that I liked
artisanship because of my father, but now that he is dead, I have
realised that my attention to detail comes from his creations,” he

Considering his shoes as design objects in their own right,
these cultish objects of desire have, on occasion, been repurposed
to serve something other than feet. “I had finished wedding shoes
for a friend of mine who is getting married soon and she was super
excited,” Louboutin recalls. “When she received them she said, ‘I’m
not going to touch them, I’m going to place them on my bookcase, I
cannot take my eyes off them.’ I actually used to do that too, with
a pair of shoes that I had bought at a flea market in Paris when I
was a teenager. They were a pair of pink pumps with a black top,
1950s style – I used them as bookends.”

Looking around the room, I cannot see any displays of repurposed
footwear. Catching my gaze, Louboutin also starts to scan our
surrounds, but not for shoes. He’s moved on to objects in a broader
sense and begins stating the provenance of individual items as his
eyes shift focus. “That is French, that is Portuguese, that is
Indian, that is French, that is English, that is American Indian,
that is Mexican, that’s from Venice… it’s a lot of things and a lot
of different influences”.

Thematically speaking, Louboutin’s household items confuse,
beguile and distract guests with their varying origins and
reflections of their owner’s parentage and passions. Still, this
particular home harbours a considerable number of Portuguese wares,
which the fashion designer is only too willing to explain to me.
Donning an ebullient, block-print striped jacket that he picked up
on a recent trip to India,
he turns to the task at hand. Passing an Indo-Portuguese
17th-century table, we commence the identification process of the
peculiar patchwork of Louboutin’s favoured Portuguese pieces.


Portrait of Vasco da Gama

Resting just off the landing, this graphic portrait of the
Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama by French artist Lucien Coutaud
is figurative in style. Considering that Coutaud was the son of a
Provençal goldsmith, it displays a crossover between French and
Portuguese identities, as well as the savoir-faire lineage from
which both Louboutin and Coutaud descend.


Azulejos tiles

Historic azulejos (Portuguese glazed ceramic tiles) are present
in every room of Louboutin’s Lisbon home. Lending to their opulent
surrounds, those with the most impressive patterns are displayed in
the back lounge, where two large rectangular pieces are affixed to
the wall. In the central room, on the same floor, the infamous
tiling is finished with resplendent scalloped edging.


Latoaria Maciel lights

These gallant, golden light features flanking the corridor walls
towards the rear of Louboutin’s home are a bespoke design by
Latoaria Maciel. The small shop, located on the edges of Alfama,
manufactures traditional and modern lanterns and lamps. The
delicate metalworks are predominantly hand cut.


Wild stairway mural

Bulgarian artist Boris Deltchev created this mural, which
mirrors the tiled patterns of traditional Portuguese houses,
softened by heavy vegetation. As you move up the staircase the
pattern shifts the balance of white on top to overtake the wall
space before blurring. The plants depicted are either found here in
Lisbon or in Louboutin’s garden by the sea in Melides.


Vida Dura ceramic pots

Symbolising Louboutin’s passion for Portuguese craftsmanship,
this black lacquer pot with a knowing face is positioned in the
garden. Other similarly shaped pots are plotted across the house,
teetering from corner shelves and planted on tables. Vida Dura is
also a lifestyle store conceived by “boy of the flowers” Rui
Freitas, who is Christian’s partner.


Sculptural fireplace

“I added the fireplace myself,” Louboutin smiles. He built the
chimneypiece from scratch, adding white putti (cherub figures) to
contrast with the royal-blue tiling. On top is a unicorn sculpture
designed by Janine Janet, a sculptor and artist who worked closely
with the fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Discover More
The Portugaba: Christian Louboutin’s Artisanal Map of Portugal