Dedicated to Mastery – Malone Souliers

Picture a colour palette worthy of a Kandinsky masterpiece, add a smattering of elegant silhouettes and sumptuous fabrics and there you have it – fashion’s most talked about shoe label, Malone Souliers.

malone-8512

The brainchild of founder Mary Alice Malone, a Pennsylvania-born shoe designer who studied at Cordwainers and her business partner Roy Luwolt, the London-based label is now in its fourth season and already plans are afoot to open their first store in New York early next year. Today though, we meet in London at the brand’s showroom-cum-atelier perched high above Albemarle Street. Here beautiful shoes – mostly signature shapes such as mules, Mary Janes and T-bar sandals are artfully arranged on coffee tables, like brightly coloured bonbons ripe for the picking. The room is divided with a large folding screen. Later, I discover that behind it, the real magic happens. It veils a workroom where Malone and her assistant cut patterns, make prototypes and work on made-to-order pieces and special requests.

malone-8508

“London is an incredible place to start something like this,” says Malone of her rapidly growing shoe business. “You want to be in a city that understands what craft is all about. We are in love with the craft and heritage you find on Savile Row or Jermyn Street. London is so disciplined and focused and unapologetically what it is. Savile Row make suits and they do that well so of course we want to be right down the road from it.”

As is the case with a beautifully crafted suit, Malone prides herself on understanding the inner workings of a shoe. I pick up a colourful T-Bar and push lightly down on the centre of the insole to understand just what she means when she talks of the “springulator”.  It turns out to be a small piece of elastic, first designed in the 1950’. This unique piece of engineering stops the shoe from slipping off the foot.

malone-8515

malone-8434

It’s clear from the off that Malone and Luwolt are the best of friends. They live, work and know each other’s likes and dislike, personality traits and foibles to a tee. “Mary Alice has serious OCD problems,” jokes Luwolt adding that she thinks in millimetres.

Whatever the case, Malone is fearless when it comes to colour. Often she mixes hues one wouldn’t normally mix -yellow, coral and violet for example. “I see colour as neutral and like to push the boundaries,” says Malone. “In my mind, any particular colour combination will work – period. I do the same with materials and even though it may all sound really bad on paper, the beauty of it all comes together as a whole.”

This is true. Even a brightly coloured platform shoe suddenly seems elegant and instantly draws my attention. “Shoes are the one thing that women put on their body that changes their entire being – their stature, their height the way they move, how the world interacts with them and how they interact with the world…. Heels make us feel more powerful, sexy and beautiful.”

malone-8446

Images © Alice Lubbock

As for the new Autumn/Winter collection, Malone fuses a rich mix of materials including butter soft nappa, snakeskin and suede, with touches of mink. The ankle booties with fluted trims are so beautiful you could stand them on a plinth and admire them as a work of art. But with London Fashion Week around the corner, I’d rather be seen hot-footing it around town in these.

 

Advertisements

THE Q&A: Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council

As chief executive officer of the British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush has one of the most coveted jobs in fashion. From working with the UK’s leading creatives, sending fledgling designers on their way both at home and abroad – and of course, staging London Fashion Week, no wonder this busy official also boasts a CBE.

Marques'-Almeida-AW15-(Dan-Sims,-BFC)-(Hi-Res)-(46)

Since her appointment to the council in 2009, Rush is credited with launching the successful London Collections Men and bringing the London shows into the modern age. It is largely thanks to her foresight that London Fashion Week was the first fashion capital to embrace live streaming – webcasting its shows to the world in 2010.  Her enthusiasm for British design is infectious, even more so in the run up to London Fashion Week, (September 18-24th), which will be showcasing the spring/summer 2016 ready-to-wear collections.

Following several years ensconced in the courtyard of Somerset House, LFW has a new home. This month it will be staged in an operational car park on Brewer Street, right in the heart of Soho. The Art Deco building, which was built in 1929, is set within a mile of Bond Street, Dover Street, Mount Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. As for the impending traffic around Soho’s narrow streets, well, that remains to be seen!

LFW-Brewer-Street-Car-Park

Brewer St Carpark

What excites you most about the new London Fashion Week venue? 

Lots of things! The location of course. Being located in the heart of Soho and being super close to our incredible West End retailers. I’m also excited about this opportunity to do something diverse in a new space and show fashion in a different way.

What can we expect from the new site?

The new site will house the runway shows, the exhibition, a pop-up café by Mark Hix, buyers lounge and designer showrooms. It’s been an interesting process moving to Soho, one which has made us rethink the entire guest experience and of course satisfy the designers who are taking part there. We are installing a screen in nearby Golden Square, which will stream live shows and films. There will also be pop-up stalls and other fun events. A lot has gone into the programming, which has to be of interest not just to the fashion crowd but to the general public and those who live and work around Soho as well.

Would you like to see Bond Street and London Fashion Week work closer together?

It makes complete sense for us to be more connected and involved with Bond Street. This prestigious shopping street is the epitome of high-end designer luxury and of course many of the brands such as Burberry already participate in London Fashion Week. We have a great opportunity to draw in the international media who are in London and see that media coverage from LFW can be connected in-store with consumer events up and down Bond Street.

Who can we expect to see showing in London this month?

We have the usual roster of incredible British talent from Burberry to Erdem, Roksanda to Christopher Kane. Hill & Friends, founded by former Mulberry creative director Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley, will be showing on the Sunday and I’m equally excited to see emerging talent such as Ashley Williams and Molly Goddard making their mark here. Another name to watch for is London design duo, Marques Almeida. The pair won 2015’s prestigious LVMH award and are innovatively reinventing denim.

Ashley-Williams-AW15,-Backstage-(Eeva-Rinne,-BFC)-(Hi-Res)-(46)

© Ashley Williams

How will digital technology play a part in the upcoming London shows?

Aside from live streaming the shows in Golden Square, we have worked with American Express (one of LFW’s partners) to develop a concierge app to help people navigate both fashion week and other venues in an around it. We are looking at other apps and technologies which will help with the logistical challenges of getting around London, especially when we have such a large international audience coming here who might not know the cut-throughs that Londoners use to navigate the West End.

How important a role does LFW play to the wider UK economy and how is the British fashion business performing these days?

Our designers and businesses continue to work extremely hard. A lot of the growth is coming from building international business but it is also very important to the UK economy. The British fashion industry contributes £26 billion each year. It employs nearly 800,000 people and more importantly, it employs a diverse workforce in terms of gender, race and equality. In terms of LFW, it’s all about profile. We are one of the leading four capitals, which is renowned for creativity and innovation and that reputation projected globally brings in a huge amount of tourism to London and the UK. LFW also provides a great platform for our business to export and grow their profile overseas.

 

Bond’s Best  

The Burberry Scarf Bar

The Burberry Scarf Bar - Classic Cashmere Scarves

With an autumn chill in the air, who wouldn’t want to wrap up warm and make their mark in luxurious Burberry cashmere? Your wish is this quintessentially British brand’s command, thanks to its new customised scarf bar. Launching across all stores this month, it offers customers the chance to turn designer and create their very own neckwear.

With the help of in-store experts, you begin by choosing between classic and lightweight Scottish cashmere. The cashmere itself is woven on traditional looms, then washed in the fresh local spring waters of Elgin and Ayr and finished by skilled craftspeople using expert methods passed down through generations.

Next you can choose from 30 styles of colour and pattern, including animal prints or the iconic Burberry check design. The latter is given a novel update with bold new colour ways and the option of hearts or polka dots.

Scarfs start at £335 and take up to a week to complete, while monogramming (from £50) adds the finishing touch. Two font sizes are available to personalise your scarf with up to three letters. Threads come in a variety of 30 shades, which amounts to over 7,000 options. Roll on autumn!

Burberry, 21-23 New Bond Street

 

 

Shop Tactics with Nazy Vassegh

Often described as the most imaginative and glamorous art and antiques fair in the world, Masterpiece London offers for sale museum-quality works including fine art, jewellery and furniture with exceptional provenance from over 150 leading galleries worldwide.

Now entering its sixth year with chief executive Nazy Vassegh at the helm, the event saw record sales of over £100 million in June 2015.

nazyVassegh-8400

© Alice Lubbock

With 24 years experience in the art world, Nazy’s career began at Sotheby’s where her passion for the finest masterpieces led her to the post of managing director of the Impressionist and Modern Art Department. Later she founded her own independent advisory firm focusing on 20th Century art, working with a number of major banks and high-end luxury brands. She has also sat on various boards such as the Mayor of London’s Advisory Board for Arts & Culture and is a prominent supporter of the ICA

Suffice to say, when it comes to the curious twists and turns of the art world, this art fair CEO has seen it all. “The art world constantly amazes me!” says Nazy. “It is fast paced, global and you have to keep up in order to remain relevant.  I really enjoy and cherish this aspect of my life.”

Born in in Tehran, Nazy spent her formative years in Los Angeles before attending boarding school in the UK and settling in London, which she now calls home. She says: “London is an exciting, cosmopolitan and international city that appeals to me on many levels. Whether in Mayfair, Bermondsey or Hampstead, I particularly enjoy exploring areas on foot, mixing food, art and shopping in an afternoon.”  She shares her favourite Mayfair haunts below:

Fera at Claridge’s, 49 Brook Street

I absolutely adore Claridge’s on every level and Fera at Claridge’s serves the most creative modern British cuisine I have ever experienced. The menu is ever-changing which means that you don’t get bored and I always feel like it’s a treat whenever I go there. The service is sublime.

Symbolic & Chase, 30 Old Bond Street

Symbolic & Chase believe that jewels should be viewed as works of art and not mere symbols of portable wealth. The owners carefully select pieces for their Old Bond Street space based on the beauty of design, virtuoso execution and historical significance.

Dior, 16 Conduit Street

I have fallen deeply in love with Dior over the last year or so. I think that Raf Simmons has taken the design to new levels and has beautifully reinterpreted this iconic historic brand. I will certainly visit the new boutique on Bond Street as soon as it opens.

Blain Southern, 4 Hanover Square

Because the space they have is simply fantastic. It allows a diverse roster of artists to put on exciting shows. Its Bill Viola show was one of my favourites.

Ronald Phillips, 26 Bruton Street

Ronald Phillips handles the best, as well as the rarest pieces of 18th-century English Furniture, particularly mirrors, from prestigious makers. It is always a treat to go in there and Simon Phillips is a fountain of knowledge. I always feel like I’ve learnt something when I visit.

 

Posted in Art