In Defense Of Christian Louboutin's $50 Nail Lacquer

The question isn't whether I'd pay $50 for a nail polish--it's why I'd pay $50 for a nail polish.

Christian Louboutin caused a stir with the announcement of his forthcoming nail polish line, Rouge Louboutin, which will sell for $50 a bottle. Anne-Marie devoted an entire Open Thread to it, asking commenters, "Would you spend $50 for a nail polish? And if so, why?"

When I first heard the news, I turned to my manager--a true believer in the House of Louboutin, if ever there was one--with my hand pressed gently against my heart, "Rachel," I breathed, as though in a half-dream, "Louboutin is releasing nail lacquers."

After some excited squawking and arm flailing, Rachel and I huddled around a computer to get the details: A suite of nail lacquers in neons, nudes, and jewel tones, starting with the iconic shoe-bottom red, will be available at select luxury retailers in mid-August for $50 a pop.

"$50?!" Rachel exclaimed before shaking her head and going back to work, while I continued to stare at the threateningly elegant bottles, brows furrowed at the realization that I would totally spend $50 on one of those lacquers.

Still, as much as I may want to, I do not intend to run out and buy a bottle of Rouge Louboutin--simply because it's out of my price range. But that's not to say that the lacquers are overpriced, it's just that I'm not the target market for a luxury good such as this.

What if I were the target market, though? What if I were super-rich and $50 for me was like $5 for most people? In that event, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would buy multiple Rouge Louboutin lacquers, for two legitimate reasons: to support a designer who appreciates design and concept to this extent, and to support a designer who acknowledges racial diversity in his clientele.

Getting What You Pay For

Let’s start with the design of the bottles. From a visual standpoint, they are stunningly realized. Measuring in at eight inches in height--an homage to Louboutin's highest heel, the Ballerina Ultima--the spiked cap succeeds in evoking the length and elegance of the designer's heels. The form is sharp and unapologetic, like the women Louboutin caters to--women who understand the power inherent in constructing and living by their own standards of beauty.

Even the shade of red he chose to launch the line with is imbued with concept: It's the exact same red that Louboutin used to paint the soles of his very first, now iconic, Red Bottoms. "The red sole was born from red nail polish... I am giving back to nails what the shoe took from the nails so many years ago," said Louboutin in a recent interview.

To this writer, the bottle alone is worth $50. The art that went into forming it into the elegant spire we’ve been graced with is truly a game-changer in a nail polish industry of squat, utilitarian tops. It makes the act applying the polish feel more artistic, as the length of the brush is reminiscent of an artist's paintbrush.

All Of The Nudes

Beyond the creative appeal of the glorious bottles that I can’t shut up about is another aspect that absolutely sold me on Rouge Louboutin: The Nudes.

Louboutin released his Nudes with--get this--brown shades included. This may seem like a fantastically small thing to wildly throw money at, but within the context of the fashion world, it’s huge.

From a deep history of appropriation in fashion to the pointed erasure of models of color, fashion has had and continues to have a very serious race problem. “Nude” remaining synonymous with a rosy, pale beige for so long is only a symptom of that deeper ill.

In such surroundings that treat inclusion with the same excitement that most treat the prospect of a root canal, a well-respected design house launching a line that encompasses all women within a term that was once only a walled garden for a few makes a very large statement. To be able to pick out a chestnut “nude” patent red-bottom pump--bank account permitting, obviously--is a signal to a pointedly overlooked market that they, too, deserve luxury goods.

The Nudes (the shoe version, above) was a capsule collection that has been halted for the time being, but seeing the diversity of Louboutin's nude lacquer palette inspires the same feeling of inclusion.

I understand completely why others may not jump at a $50 bottle of nail polish, because, hey, we work hard for our money, and $50 isn’t exactly chump change. For me, personally, it may be worth it.

Your turn. I want to hear your thoughts on Rouge Louboutin. If you could, would you spend $50 on a bottle of this nail polish? What other beauty brands are getting it right when it comes to their shade range?