Chin up, YSL: it worked for OJ…
Christian Louboutin is stabbing with stilettos at any other shoe label trying to paint its shoe outsoles red. The renowned shoe label announced yesterday that it is going after yet another shoe manufacturer, Brazilian label Carmen Steffens, for styling their stilettos in scarlet. This news comes less than a week after Louboutin filed a suit in New York against Paris couture house Yves Saint Laurent.
Louboutin first incorporated the glossy red outsole into his shoes in 1992. During a runway show, Louboutin spotted an employee wearing red Chanel nail polish, inspiring him to paint it on the shoe outsole in order to complete it and give it the energy that it lacked. I hope that the employee got a promotion, a raise, and a cut of the profits. Let’s go all out: I hope she gets a cut of the earnings if the lawsuit is successful.
When the red outsole became a success, Louboutin made it permanent but took 15 years (until 2007) to apply for a trademark on the crimson design.
Carmen Steffens has contested the claims, saying that the label has been using the colour for its outsoles since 1996, more than a decade before the Louboutin trademark. Carmen Steffens went further to say that unlike Louboutin; they use various colours on their shoe outsoles, including different hues of red. US President of Operations for Carmen Steffens, Mark Willingham reported to Footwear News that of the current collection offering “250 styles…only three styles utilise red tones on their soles.”
Yves Saint Laurent’s red suede shoes form the Spring 2011 collection are coupled with matching red outsoles, which are “virtually identical” (as the lawsuit reads) to Christian Louboutin’s trademark. Like Carmen Steffens, YSL’s current collection also features other colours: navy shoes with navy soles, green shoes with green soles, and purple shoes with purple soles. Louboutin asked YSL in January not to use the red colour. Since YSL has not responded, Louboutin is now asking the court to force YSL to stop production and award $1 million in damages.
There is a twist: Christian Louboutin created a special shoe for the finale of Yves Saint Laurent’s farewell haute couture show in 2002. The shoe, known as “Christian Louboutin for Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture 1962-2002,” is the only occasion where YSL associated his name with another designer. Apparently Louboutin is not feeling a lasting connection between the two of them anymore.
Louboutin’s defence against YSL is that, “The defendant’s use of red footwear outsoles that are virtually identical to plaintiff’s Red Sole Mark is likely to cause and is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the relevant purchasing public as to the origin of the infringing footwear.” Well, Christian, it is your word against a dead man’s, so if people are not keen enough to spot the real Louboutin, you can always say they are yours…
[Be warned, while Christian Louboutin shoes are fabulous, the website is quite frightening: http://www.christianlouboutin.com]