in con­ver­sa­tion with malone souliers

CUR­RENTLY THE NAME ON THE LIPS OF ANY SELF-RE­SPECT­ING STYLE AFI­CIONADO, THE LON­DON­BORN SHOE BRAND HAS RISEN TO CULT-STA­TUS IN LESS THAN FOUR YEARS, QUICKLY GAR­NER­ING THE AT­TEN­TION OF THE FASH­ION ELITE WITH IM­PEC­CA­BLY CHIC AND COM­FORT­ABLE SHOES. EMI­RATES W

Emirates Woman - - Con­tents - The Malone Souliers A/W 2017 col­lec­tion is avail­able at the­modist.com

64 In Con­ver­sa­tion With: Malone Souliers.

“THE SHOES NEED TO BE COM­FORT­ABLE. AS A WOMAN DE­SIGN­ING FOR OTHER WOMEN, I FEEL IF I DID NOT RE­SPECT THE NEED TO BE COM­FORT­ABLE THAT WOULD BE RE­ALLY RUDE OF ME”

The sun, the beach and the blue sea is glo­ri­ous to wake up to,” ex­claims Mary Alice Malone, the cre­ative di­rec­tor and founder of Malone Souliers. Loung­ing on the ca­pa­cious sofa in the ho­tel suite over­look­ing the Burj Al Arab, her vel­vet slip­per-clad feet are the first thing we see when we walk into the room.

Sit­ting next to her is her co-founder, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and best friend, Roy Lul­wolt. The duo – who are in Dubai with lux­ury on­line re­tailer The Modist – open up to Emi­rates Woman about why they be­lieve their shoes have be­come so pop­u­lar in the re­gion, how com­fort is the core com­po­nent to the brand and Malone’s love for the “bold and un­apolo­getic” style of women in the Mid­dle East.

How did you end up in the field of shoes?

MALONE: I don’t have an in­cred­i­bly log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for that. I’ve al­ways been in­trigued by hu­mans and women and why we do what we do and I love mak­ing things – so shoes are kind of the

jux­ta­po­si­tion of the two of them.

Do you re­mem­ber the first pair of shoes you de­signed and why?

MALONE: Yes, ab­so­lutely – Sa­van­nah, the open-toe lace-up booties. It wasn’t corsets specif­i­cally but foun­da­tional gar­ments and how they work in shap­ing the body.

Why do you think Malone Souliers’ shoes has achieved in­stant cult-sta­tus?

MALONE: I’m go­ing to let you an­swer that [turns to Roy]. I’m too much in the cen­tre of the storm to an­swer that. LUL­WOLT: Be­cause she makes good shoes.

Do you think it has any­thing to do with the woman who wears them?

MALONE: The shoes are meant to en­hance who­ever is wear­ing them. They are meant to be­come you. Hope­fully it is a very per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence wear­ing them.

The women of the Mid­dle East love your shoes. They al­ways sell out quickly in the re­gion. Why do you think they are so pop­u­lar here?

MALONE: There is an amaz­ing un­der­stand­ing of fash­ion, bold­ness and self-ex­pres­sion here that re­ally leans to­wards a very play­ful take on fash­ion.

What do you think of the Mid­dle Eastern woman's style?

MALONE: I love it be­cause it's very bold and un­apolo­getic. Women here look fab­u­lous ev­ery minute of ev­ery day and that's quite im­pres­sive. It's an in­cred­i­ble stan­dard they keep up daily.

Mod­est dress­ing is a trend that has taken the world by storm. Do you dress mod­estly?

MALONE: I think it's fab. On a daily ba­sis I like feel­ing com­fort­able as I want to go in to the stu­dio and fo­cus on work. Most of the time I don't want to worry about my skirt blow­ing up if it's a windy day in Lon­don. I like to keep things cov­ered as that's when you get work done. When your clothes are un­fussy you can get through your day and have less dis­trac­tions. I wear a lot of large flow­ing pieces.

What's your fun­da­men­tal rule when de­sign­ing shoes?

MALONE: There's a very im­por­tant bal­ance that needs to be struck be­tween what's con­cealed and what's re­vealed with the foot. The amount you con­ceal is just as im­por­tant, if not more im­por­tant, than what's re­vealed and I think that ten­sion is nec­es­sary. It's what's in­ter­est­ing, what makes the shoe.

Is that why the shoes are sub­tle yet sexy?

MALONE: That's the ten­sion – that sexy el­e­ment and that in­trigue comes from cov­er­ing not by un­cov­er­ing.

Tell us about the Roy and Alice re­la­tion­ship. What's the dy­namic there: are you al­ways best friends or are there ever any dis­agree­ments?

[Both laugh]MALONE: There's healthy con­flict but that's how you grow and get things done. LUL­WOLT: We've never fallen out since we've been friends. We've ob­vi­ously had very dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions to en­gage in but that's sort of the beauty of it. It's ac­tu­ally very in­sult­ing to say the words 'mu­tual re­spect' as what we have is big­ger than that. It's a nat­u­ral re­spect for each other. Our re­la­tion­ship is one of op­po­sites. What she does is en­tirely dif­fer­ent from my skill set and vice versa but that's what is great. We didn't plan it that way, we met that way and it's made the busi­ness what it is.

We were en­e­mies at din­ner, ne­go­tia­tors at break­fast the next morn­ing and then we be­came – well, I was the stalker and you were the prey. [Laughs, look­ing at Malone]. Then we be­came busi­ness part­ners and then friends.

In one sen­tence, what do you learn from each other?

[Malone pauses to think] LUL­WORT: I know mine very eas­ily. MALONE: [Look­ing at Rory]I love that you have this very cre­ative and con­fi­dent en­ergy, ev­ery­thing is ne­go­tiable to you, which I think is fab­u­lous. If you want some­thing you will go get it – there is no ‘no'. LUL­WORT: [Smiles] So, mov­ing on… Ba­si­cally it's bizarre – I've al­ways been sur­rounded by women in my work and life. My daugh­ter, my mother and the world around me is fe­male led but I have never learnt so much about my­self [since meet­ing Alice]. I'm not be­ing cheesy, I mean that. There's a lot more self-aware­ness that oc­curs with her than I've ever had. It's in fact what makes her one of my best friends. She's knows what I need be­fore I do and she al­ways fore­sees prob­lems be­fore they oc­cur.

We've lasted all day and night in our Dana pumps – they are so com­fort­able. Is com­fort im­por­tant to you when de­sign­ing?

MALONE: The shoes need to be com­fort­able. As a woman de­sign­ing [shoes] for other women, I feel if I do not re­spect the need to be com­fort­able that would be re­ally rude of me [laughs]. They need be com­fort­able and they need to be beau­ti­ful and hope­fully that hap­pens at the same. I un­der­stand that ev­ery­one has a dif­fer­ent re­la­tion to what's com­fort­able. We meet some women who are like: ‘Oh my gosh, I've been in your heels for the past 36 hours and I've just run three miles and got on 16 flights and I'm still wear­ing them and I'm com­fort­able.' I un­der­stand that's not every­body but hope­fully if you re­ally dis­like high heels and want to wear flats they are su­per-com­fort­able as well. LUL­WORT: This leads back to your ques­tion on our suc­cess. The com­fort el­e­ment has been the core part from the start. It was some­thing that we de­cided was fun­da­men­tal for ev­ery sin­gle style we made. Com­fort is not re­ally the pri­or­ity of many brands, with the ex­cep­tion of Gian­vito Rossi, who ac­tu­ally is all about com­fort – though we're bet­ter than him [laughs]. It's ac­tu­ally re­ally im­por­tant to un­der­stand that lux­ury re­ally doesn't play along the lines of func­tion­al­ity and be­ing able to do that is a very sus­tain­able po­si­tion for us. MALONE: I make all of our casts so that there is room for the toes and that heels bal­ance and don't feel like you're fall­ing back­wards. That's re­ally im­por­tant with the en­gi­neer­ing.

What's the best ca­reer ad­vice you've ever re­ceived?

MALONE: You have to be stub­born about what you want but you also have to be open-minded to other con­sid­er­a­tions and be able to take them on board as well. There needs to be that bal­ance. For me it's trial and er­ror.

We adore the Rok­sanda col­lab­o­ra­tion you cre­ated re­cently. Who's next?

LUL­WORT: We can't speak of that. MALONE: [Smiles] There's al­ways some­one in the pipe­line.

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