Malone Souliers shoes appear on the foot like a bold work of art. Slipped inside a stiletto or flat, the foot is sculpted, colorful, and notably transformed via feminine lines that shape a sensual silhouette. Founder and creative director, Mary Alice Malone, is an imposing beauty at 1.8m and with a mane of blond hair; her sure-footed venture as shoe designer is nuanced and strategic. Hailing from London, and a graduate of the Cordwainers program at the London College of Fashion, she arrives in Dubai and speaks to Vogue Arabia’s Caterina Minthe about her journey from maker to shoe maverick, mentors, and what makes Malone Souliers unlike any other luxury footwear label today.
Describe in detail your first memory of shoes.
My first notable and memorable pair of shoes were actually my (male) cousin’s hand-me-down cowboy boots. I went everywhere in those ruined boots for as long they let me.
How did you graduate to footwear designer?
I was always a maker. I tried my hand at welding, furniture making, and various forms of artistry before moving on to cordwaining. Shoes – or rather the creation of shoes – from the ground up always fascinated me. I like to understand how something is internally born and externally created, and its dynamic design.
In today’s burgeoning footwear landscape, what makes Malone Souliers different?
I find my tradecraft exclusively reliant on the literature of psychology. With some serendipity, this has driven a handwriting of a tactile and sensuously practicable product, which has come to appeal most instinctively to women, further reaching beyond the sheer mix of color and media.
Interesting. What’s the last book you read?
Rules of Enchantment by Tim Leberecht.
Describe Malone Souliers’ aesthetic.
We have a particularly identifiable silhouette, which is consistently feminine, be it day- or eveningwear, formal or casual. We combine bold design with an unwavering attention to detail. Each pair of our shoes is meticulously handcrafted to embody our inherently feminine yet playful aesthetic.
What is your dream design collaboration?
The Roksanda collaboration for Spring 2017 truly feels like a match made in heaven. This collection encompasses a sense of balance and synergy that ultimately provides a fully blended and personified experience reflective of both Malone Souliers and Roksanda. The shoes are not only a celebration of the elongated, pointed, silhouettes Malone Souliers is known for, but are also a testimony to femininity in its truest form. My business partner and co-founder, Roy Luwolt, and I do everything together. That, in itself, is our most intrinsic collaboration; we are organically inseparable.
Did or do you have a mentor?
There is a handful of women who have shaped my career and given me identifiable courage to do this. My mother, Mary Alice Malone Sr., and also Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s Soup. Then, there’s the other non-woman I spend most of my frightful adventure/life with: my business partner, Roy. I cannot imagine the long hours, press days, and fashion weeks without each other.
Describe the dynamic with your business partner. How did you two meet?
Roy and I are yin to yang, inexcusable opposites that complement each other. I feel safe leaving Roy to direct the business, brand, and overarching strategy while I focus on our preserved and introspective design culture. When Roy and I met, I certainly wouldn’t say it was love at first sight. We met at a dinner party in London and I accidentally insulted a global label that Roy had been very influential in starting up, so we actually argued that night. However, after butting heads and swapping intellectual insults, we discovered a shared love of artisanal creation, craft and form, and sustained luxury. The next morning, he had a business plan drawn up, and Malone Souliers was born.
What do you hope to do during your trip to Dubai?
One of my favorite things is being around women from different cultures and regions. I find it so inspiring right now, which is one of the reasons I always enjoy my time in Dubai. Also a little bit out there, but during this trip I am doing my first skydive.
What is the next trip on your radar?
Roy and I are already packed for Tokyo this summer.
Name three addresses in London.
Our home, 49 Albemarle Street. Our daily caffeine addiction dealer at Raw Press, Dover Street. Also LN-CC, our regular, awesomely antisocial clothing addiction dealer.
If you weren’t a shoe designer, what would you be?
A something-less-difficult designer.
Flats or high heels?
You’re here for a collaboration with the new Dubai-based fashion e-commerce site The Modist. How would you describe its founder, Ghizlan Guenez?
Strategically rebellious with decisive clarity, evidently bored by danger, eager to risk, break, make.
Malone Souliers shoes are available at Aïshti in Kuwait and Lebanon, Rubaiyat in Saudi Arabia, 51 East in Qatar, Level Shoe District in UAE, and various e-commerce platforms, including The Modist.