Legendary fashion designer Christian Louboutin has elaborated on the factors behind his recent move into watch design.
The much-heralded French designer, famed for his red-soled women’s shoes, turned his eye to creating luxury watches after revealing a tie-up with Jaeger-LeCoultre earlier this year.
The brand called on Louboutin to come up with a new look for its celebrated Reverso watch, which has been launched to mark its 85th anniversary.
Speaking about establishing the partnership, Louboutin said it was not an offer he took lightly. “I do very few collaborations, and only with people that I like,” he told the Telegraph. “Besides which, although I only own three watches, one is a Reverso and it’s very beautiful: a perfect piece of design.”
Louboutin’s first move was to visit Jaeger-LeCoultre’s ateliers in Switzerland, he revealed. “I wanted this collaboration to be a challenge, not just adding some red to the dial and a red lining. I wanted to marry our two DNAs together and to do that I had to go there and see how the watches are made. It was fascinating. I discovered we had a common obsession with detail – me slightly, them completely. Every tiny component that is made there, is done so with great care.”
“They were very patient, even with some silly proposals I put forward, explaining what could work if simplified, and what was impossible. It was a real collaboration of respect, with ideas going back and forth until we truly understood each other.”
The straps of Louboutin-designed watches feature a red lining in keeping with his signature pattern. And he insists he found parallels between making shoes and watches.
“Both contain hidden engineering that in a shoe has to carry weight and give the right centre of gravity for balance, and in a watch makes it keep accurate time, which is far more technical. When you design a shoe the last gives the shape and structure – the rest is decoration – and I always say a shoe needs the ‘perfect face’ that a good last gives it. The Reverso is the same: the dial design is so well balanced I didn’t want to change it, but to work within that frame. If you want to change it – well, then you design a new watch but the idea was a collaboration, not my new watch design.”
Louboutin added that he was intrigued by the expert enamelling and other craft techniques associated with Jaeger-LeCoultre, prompting him to specifically hone in on the dial colour.
“I wanted it to look as if it had been dipped in iridescence, like the effect of petrol on water or a scarab wing – an effect I use on shoes,” he said. “I also liked the idea of extending that to the bracelet.”