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Christian Louboutin Estimates 3,000 Women Have 500 Pairs of His Shoes Each; Danielle Steele Has 6,000 Pairs

>> Christian Louboutin's business grew by the double digits last year, he tells Vanity Fair in a profile from the magazine's May 2010 issue. He sells more than 340,000 pairs of shoes annually, ranging from $495 up to an amount he won't reveal (but a custom-made pair of Louboutins, like one with sole made entirely of rubies, can be priced into the high five figures). In fact, at a dinner soon after the financial crisis, he recalled his reaction to be, "What's 'credit crunch'? Is that a new gym?"

The designer doesn't believe in advertising or marketing and he claims to have never "pushed" celebrities into wearing his shoes on the red carpet. "My goal has never been to make money." Some celebrities receive a discount at his boutiques, but he rarely gives shoes away.

He hates dirty shoes »

He's also slow on the uptake of technology — he can barely use his iPhone, only started an email account a few years ago, and doesn't know how to drive. He has, however, trademarked his red sole — in the US in 2008 and in the UK last year. And he's very protective of those red soles — Albez Elbaz asked Louboutin to produce shoes for one of his early Lanvin collections: "At the time, I thought the red sole was too strong for my collection, so I painted them black — a great mistake! He almost killed me."  In fact, he's protective of shoes in general. "Ugh, I cannot bear dirty shoes," Louboutin says. "If a shoe has one scratch on it, I cannot even look at it."

Louboutin estimates about 3,000 women to have around 500 pairs of his shoes each. But "the super-top customer?" he says. "Danielle Steele, for sure. She has at least 6,000 pairs, if not more. She comes to Paris, and she literally buys everything. Then she flies back to New York, says, 'I'm a little disappointed — there's nothing in the store,' and walks out with 80 pairs. She is super."

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