In Her Shoes: A Chat With Malone Souliers' Ingenious Designer

Stefanie Keenan
Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt

Mary Alice Malone, whose edgy, modern designs have already piqued the interest of style stars like Solange Knowles and Lupita Nyong'o, talks inspiration and her love of competition.

Mary Alice Malone, the creative force of the duo behind Malone Souliers, grew up in Pennsylvania horse country. When it came time to settle on a career, the former Junior Olympic equestrian enrolled in art school in Colorado where she tried her hand at furniture making, welding and upholstery before following her passion and enrolling at Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion.

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After quietly launching her footwear collection with business partner Roy Luwolt in the fall of 2014, Malone quickly gained fans including some of the most fashion-forward celebrities — from Solange Knowles to Lupita Nyong'o. Malone Souliers’ first award show debut was on Girls actress Jemima Kirke at the Golden Globes, and Kim Kardashian chose the shoes on her honeymoon as well.

The shoes themselves are sublime, with attention to detail and materials as well as an obsessive focus on the architecture and fit of each last shoe to create elegant and timeless yet modern silhouettes.

We got a chance to catch up with Malone at Nordstrom at The Grove for their Los Angeles debut this past Saturday, where BFF Solange showed up in a pair of "Savannah’s" — fantastic lace-up stilettos with a four-and-a-quarter-inch pin-thin stiletto and lantern tassel ankle ties. We're predicting many more fans come awards season.

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What are your favorite pair of shoes of all time?

Our only couturier's shoes, the ruffled mules — "Maye's" — because they're a feat of technically impossible design.‎ We made only two pairs, and have since been trying to invent the manufacturing technique to produce them in scale quantities, because our clients have demanded.

Why did you want to do a shoe line?

That's really my training. Yes, I ride horses and studied art and international politics, but putting women in heels? No contest! I get to make disobedient shoes in a luxury market, and at my pace, with a business partner who is the perfect opposite of me — most astute in business strategy and brand building for luxury fashion. That is why I make shoes.

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What inspires you when designing your shoe line?

It really is all about the woman. Be she a girl, woman or the former's grandmother‎ — she is the one who owns the room before she's yet arrived. That's the inspiration across all seasons: You, who you are — not why you are — and our humble shoes get to continue that message, not reinterpret who you are.

What can we expect to see in your line for the fall at Nordstrom?

Nordstrom has joined us just at the most opportune time, seeing as we'd worked through our first couple of seasons‎ and now have primary market feedback, so their buy includes a few of our core styles, which are just some of our bestsellers: Sheila, Montana, Savannah and Maureen, all in colors of an autumnal climate — bordeaux, evergreen — amid sueded materials and lipstick overtones. Our sculptural lines, for which Malone Souliers has come to be known, are just as evident in Nordstrom's selection.

What shoes do you like to design in?

Mostly barefoot. I work best in my domestic comfort.

What kind of shoes do you like to see on the opposite sex?

I love Roy in double monkstraps, but I oddly like my actual boyfriend in basic oxfords. Roy calls me a contradiction for that.

What shoes do you want to buried in?

I'm not convinced I want to be buried in shoes.

Why are shoes so amazing?

‎Shoes are really the one thing in a look that determine the rest of the look, whether you picked them first or last in choosing your outfit, they make you rethink. So, tasking ourselves with that most punished of accessories, that most inimitable element of all fashion, well, there is only fun to be had. And we love a good competition.