Worldwise: Famed French Fashion Designer Christian Louboutin’s Favourite Things
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Worldwise: Famed French Fashion Designer Christian Louboutin’s Favourite Things

Thu, Mar 30, 2023 9:07amGrey Clock 3 min

As the founder of an eponymous fashion brand that counts legions of women and celebrities as ardent fans, Christian Louboutin has amassed a following that has garnered him fame in his own right. Most known for his stilettos with their unmistakable red-lacquered soles—the accessory that gave him his start—the Paris-born designer has since expanded beyond footwear with handbags, fragrances, makeup, and shoes for men.

Now comes a new venture all together: this April, Louboutin, 60, will open Vermelho Melides, a 13-room hotel in Melides, a small town in Portugal’s Alentejo region. It’s a rural, unspoiled destination of pine forests, rice lagoons, and beaches where he owns a restored former fisherman’s shack and visits every chance he gets.

Named after the Portuguese word for red, Vermelho Melides is meant to evoke the feeling of a friend’s home more than a hotel and features a litany of colors, materials, and styles from various eras. Art plays into the design, too, while dining and imbibing will unfold at XTian, a restaurant offering upscale Portuguese cuisine.

Louboutin, who was expelled from school three times and began designing shoes when he was a teenager, spoke to Penta about his favorite things from Rio de Janeiro, where he was attending Carnival and also has a home.

I first discovered Portugal… as a teenager on a backpacking trip. I traveled to Lisbon and Porto and instantly loved both. I went again eight years later—this time to Comporta, a small town about an hour south of Lisbon. It was idyllic and had the most beautiful stretch of beach. I didn’t visit again until almost a decade later. I had already started my company, and my friend, the designer Jacques Grange, invited me to stay with him at his home there. I ended up visiting for the next two summers and eventually bought a home in Comporta and then Melides.

My ideal day in Melides… begins by waking up at 7 a.m., going for a jog and jumping into the ocean for a swim. Then it’s breakfast with my friends and family. The rest of the day is very relaxed. I have a beautiful garden and might spend a few hours tending to my flowers and vegetables. Or it’s reading, sketching my next round of shoe designs, and visiting local markets. But really, being in Melides is about not doing much. In the evening, it’s a long dinner with friends at home or at a local restaurant.

A favourite souvenir from Melides is… a ceramic piece from the store Vida Dura in town. Everything is handmade in Portugal, and the owner has a fantastic eye for great finds. The dinnerware, jugs, glasses, and more are colourful and will remind you of your trip.

My most memorable hotel stay… was at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India, in the Maharani suite. It’s a sprawling palace and gorgeous with Art Deco decor. My bed was huge, and so was the bathroom. More recently, it’s the Le Grand Controle on the grounds of Versailles. I went for Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend, and the property transported us to the world of French royalty. Alain Ducasse is behind the cuisine, and we had the most decadent multi-course with lots of French wine.

The destination on my bucket list is… the Azores Islands in Portugal. The architecture looks stunning, and it’s very much about appreciating nature like Melides. I want to visit Tasmania for the same reason.

My go-to vacation destination is… Bhutan. I visit every year. It’s a very spiritual place and again, nature dominates. I also love hiking, and the country has incredibly scenic hikes.

The shoes I wear for sightseeing are… loafers or flip-flops. I find them to be comfortable and easy to take on and off. Never sneakers, which I wear only when I’m running.

My travel essentials are… a great book and auction catalogs from Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams—they’re my secret vice.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
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Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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