MUMBAI, India — Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing legendary shoe designer Christian Louboutin. He was in India to launch his new Mumbai flagship in Horniman Circle, an area with stunning heritage buildings that is beginning to show potential of becoming an epicentre of luxury retail in south Bombay.
Indeed, unlike many other international luxury brands, Christian's approach to opening a store in our notoriously difficult, and still nascent market, was not to simply find a safe location in a luxury mall. Rather, it reflected a blend of sound business sense, cultural sensitivity, and a willingness to take risks, which, in turn, reflected his unwavering love for and understanding of India's multifaceted culture. Christian is as much at home in Tamil Nadu, where his exquisite embroideries are made, as he is in Rajasthan, where he goes for his annual séjour.
It's not surprising, then, that when he opened the doors to his new boutique, designed in collaboration with an Indian architect and featuring interiors created by Indian artisans, all of Bombay fell under his spell. The hundred men and women who attended a party hosted by Bombay society doyenne Poonam Bhagat-Shroff earlier in the week, all wearing Louboutin shoes, proved that the designer had many fans in Bombay even before he set up shop here. Still, the opening was clearly the beginning of a special, reciprocal relationship between a designer and his customers.