Charles Jourdan

Born:Bourg-de-Péage, France, 1883
Died: Paris, France, 1976

Trained as a shoemaker, Charles Jourdan opened his first shoe shop in the centre of France’s shoe industry, Romans in the Drome region in 1919.

His initial designs became widely popular, encouraging him to focus his career on women’s shoes. After only two years Jourdan’s success had grown so large he moved his business into a factory on Boulevard Voltaire and employed over 30 people.

In the 1930’s Jourdan placed advertisements in the high-end fashion magazines, identifying his label as haute couture. He was the first designer to do so.

In 1947 the business expanded with Jourdan’s three sons joining the company. Three years later they expanded the label further starting exports to the United Kingdom.

In 1957 the company opened its first boutique in Paris. The following year Jourdan designed the Maxime shoe, a low-heeled, square toed court shoe with a satin bow. The shoe became his best-known, best-selling style.

In 1959 Jourdan was granted a license to design and manufacture shoes for Christian Dior cementing his labels haute couture status. This followed by the creation of designs under the Pierre Cardin label.

During the sixties and seventies Jourdan used surrealist photographer Guy Bourdin. Bourdin created avant-garde imagery for the company to push a modern and forward image for the label. The advertisements became legendary with Bourdin capturing a sense of wit and mystery about the shoes.

In the early 1970s the company was bought by Genesco. Under the new direction ready-to-wear, clothing and handbags were added to the house; however shoes still remained the main focus.

Charles Jourdan died in 1976 but the company continued under leadership of his sons. His son Jourdan started to lead the labels designs, most notably adding simple buckles and lengthening the toe of the basic pump shoe. The new style created a tailored and delicate image.

In 1980 a Swiss group took over the company, but retained the original name. The business now had boutiques in major cities worldwide. In 1996 to recognize the 75th anniversary of the label, the fragrance “Stiletto” was created. The bottle was shaped in the form of the Eiffel tower to honour Paris.

Charles Jourdan was eponymous with shoes. Selling simple designs in a variety of colours and fits, Jourdan created a classic affluent look which took his label to haute couture status.

Charles Jourdan Biography


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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

5 thoughts on “Charles Jourdan

  1. I was wondering if you could help me with something i have a shoe that looks like a display its only about 8 Iinches high a shoe on a pueter foot on bottom it says charles jourdan paris 018 it has real gems in it.The shoe looks like it comes off the foot with a tool of some kind i had taken it to the antique roadshow and they have never seen anything like it.To me it looks like a sample of one of his shoes maybe 018 on bottom means something could someone please help please…….. thank you

  2. i have a pair of shoes by charles jourdan my mom bought between 1976 and 1978 couldnt wear after trying it on then. Due to the shoe being too wide (she wore only 9n)but it was a 9m. She never wore the shoe again and well kept it all of this time still being new. i know its worth someting now..what do u suggest i do??

  3. Mr. Charles Jourdan was a Brilliant Visionary, ahead of future deasigns and abreast of designs and a leader in his field, and Not a carbon copy to follow others in his field. Excellent designer he was.
    Sayed Muhammed.
    South Africa.

  4. I have a old nice vintage briefcase Chrles Jourdan – perfect condition – inside and outside – no key – I wish to sell it – not know how much but I will consider your offer
    French calling Australia home

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