Yesterday, couture designer Glenroy March at dmarshcouture and I got into a bit of a heated discussion about the new Christian Louboutin nail polish Rouge. Will women pay $50 for a 0.4fl. oz bottle of lacquer just because it bears the name of the renowned shoe designer?
March believes women will be attracted by the Louboutin name. and for a certain sector, $50 is a negligible sum. If you’re willing to spend $800 on a pair of Loubies what’s $50? My view is the aspirational buyer will pay more for something that feels good (a luxurious face cream or a Chanel lipstick), is well made (an Armani suit), or is easily recognized for the luxury item it is (those red soles on the bottom of my shoes!). But $50 for a bottle of nail polish when I can buy Chanel and Dior at half the price? Would March be able to tell from my manicure whether I was wearing Rouge Louboutin or Rouge Rubis by Chanel? (Of course, if you want to go all out extravagant, you can always lay out $500 for a bottle of Mine’s 24K gold lacquer – but that’s real 24 karat gold!)
The Christian Louboutin website doesn’t answer the question. The description of Rouge Louboutin is more about the bottle design and packaging than what’s inside:
Rouge Louboutin… a timeless, vibrant red suited to any skin tone. A true objet d’art of a dramatic 8-inch height inspired by the tallest heel Christian Louboutin ever created- the Ballerina Ultima. The iconic Rouge is encased in a faceted, weighted glass bottle with an unique ombré effect. The tall slender cap, inspired by calligraphy, turns the application into a luxurious experience, inviting women to take their time. The custom-designed, patented triangular brush picks up the right amount of formula, without air bubbles, to deliver flawless, chip-resistant coverage. A highly pigmented, super glossy formula delivers in just two coats the effect of 20 layers of traditional lacquer. Enclosed in a patent leather like finish presentation box with a red reveal.
Nowhere could I find a list of ingredients or a side-by-side comparison of how my nails would look wearing Rouge compared to another brand.
I do have to concede from a branding perspective everything about this product is spot on. The elongated cap evokes the stiletto heel of a pair of Louboutin Ballerina Ultima heels and the red lacquer matches the iconic red soles. (To drive home the point (excuse the pun!) Louboutin enlisted one of my favorite directors, David Lynch, to film the promotional video. I love the video, but in the end I’m not sure if it tells me what I want to know to justify the cost.)
The bottle is encased in a luxurious patent-leather–like finished box with a red reveal. Each component is consistent with the brand. But unless I’m carrying the eight-inch tall bottle with me, or inviting someone into my boudoir to see the striking bottle on my dressing table, who will know? And if no one knows, that leaves us to the personal aesthetics of the product. Does it feel luxurious as I put it on? Will it outperform other nail lacquers?
I will admit after reading Vogue editor Plum Sykes’ gushing review on Rouge Louboutin, I thought the price tag might be worth a one-time purchase for a special occasion and to treasure the extraordinary bottle as a keepsake (right next to my iconic bottle of Schiaparelli’s Shocking perfume). Then again, if I had flown to Paris and met Monsieur Louboutin in person, I might be gushing too.
Will women buy nail polish at a price as high as that Ballerina Ultima heel? I honestly don’t know yet. Let me know what you think by commenting below.
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