Few designers have as distinguishing a trademark as Christian Louboutin's fiery red leather sole, the idea for which came to Louboutin when a worker was painting her nails with Chanel polish (he swiped it from her and began painting it directly onto a shoe). As a teenager, the Parisian designer was fascinated with dancers and showgirls, particularly their affinity for high-heeled platform shoes; he even tried to sell them his first design at age 16! Since then, Louboutin has worked with designers such as Charles Jourdan, Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurent, and the shoe legend Roger Vivier. In 1992 he opened his first boutique in Paris and introduced the world to his characteristic style of teetering heels on a covered, hidden platform -- giving the illusion that the wearer is walking on an impossibly high heel, when in fact the degree of the foot is similar to lower heels. The result is a fiercely feminine and chic shoe that has won the devout accolades of designers, celebrities, and fashion-forward women worldwide. You can check them out for yourself at NET-A-PORTER.com or Bluefly.com (search "Christian Louboutin").
Though Manolo Blahnik has been making shoes since the 70s, there is little doubt that he gained recognition from women worldwide whenever Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City would swoon over his extremely sexy shoe designs (an entire episode was dedicated to her addiction and she's been known to call his Mary Janes an "urban shoe myth"). To this day, Blahnik handcrafts the heels and lasts for each style during the design process, and he personally draws those iconic images of his shoes, which have become quite popular in their own right. Throughout the years, Blahnik has experimented with the architecture of the shoe, from literally altering the traditional structure -- he was the first to try a heel-less shoe -- to honoring Frank Lloyd Wright with a Guggenheim-esque style. His most classic style however is the pencil thin stiletto heel, making a woman feel aesthetically light and lengthy. You can search for your own pair of Manolos at Footcandy or YOOX.com.
Jimmy Choo -- who made his first shoe at age 11 -- has been creating shoes in the UK since the late 80s (finding a fan in Princess Diana), but his designs were first introduced to a larger, international audience in 1996 when Tamara Mellon, the accessories editor at Vogue UK, proposed expanding his label to fill the need for glamorous, carefully-designed footwear. His shoes are consistently delicate and timeless in style. Though the brand has gone international, it still maintains an air of exclusivity by controlling the distribution of its products and styles to specific retailers. If they don't meet the high-end quality level the brand is looking for, the retailer is denied the right to carry the shoes. Luckily for us online shoppers however, you can always find Jimmy Choos on the official website, as well as a plethora of other sites, such as NET-A-PORTER.com or Bluefly.com (search "Jimmy Choo").
The exquisite details and construction of these three designers' shoes have made them enviable by all women. Therefore any fashion-conscious girl should be familiar with their name and aesthetic. That way, when you come across an amazing deal on a pair of classic Louboutin pumps, for example, you'll know to pounce.
-- Lindsay Sakraida