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Born in France in 1963, Christian Louboutin first started dreaming up fantastical footwear in his early teens. He was expelled from school at age 16 and started working for famed shoe designer Charles Jourdan two years later. In the early 1990s, Louboutin launched his own line of women’s shoes. He added his legendary red soles in 1993. In 2003, Louboutin expanded into women’s handbags. He then started up his men’s shoes line in 2011.

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Over the years, Louboutin has continued to turn out season after season of imaginative footwear. “For inspiration, I often imagine a courtesan living out her life in a circus,” he explained to Marie Claire magazine. He has turned his surrealistically beautiful shoes into an international success story.

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According to The New Yorker, he sells more than 500,000 pairs of his fabulous footwear each year. The cost of getting a pair of Louboutins can range from nearly $400 up to $6,000. Louboutin has stores around the world in addition to his Paris headquarters.

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In addition to women’s shoes, Louboutin has worked to expand his reach in fashion. He branched out into handbags in 2003, and he now offers a line of men’s shoes as well. In 2013, Louboutin will debut his new beauty line.

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With all his success, Louboutin has worked hard to defend his designs from copiers and counterfeiters. He even took the fashion company Yves Saint Laurent to court over its use of red outer soles on some of its shoes. Louboutin also set up his own website to address the counterfeit shoe problem.

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Outside of his fashion empire, Louboutin has taken on some creative challenges. He worked with director David Lynch on a photo exhibit in 2007. In 2012, Louboutin helped design many elements of Feu, or “Fire,” a show at the legendary Parisian club Crazy Horse.

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