While big fashion brands have the luxury of working with fancy architects on store and showroom spaces, new brands often don’t have the cash for such extravagances. Luckily a lack of funds had no detrimental impact on the London Mayfair headquarters and showroom of Malone Souliers, a niche footwear label launched in February 2014 by Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt.
‘It was a lot of work but we kind of enjoyed it all,’ says Luwolt of the in-house design operation. ‘We just picked up ideas from restaurants, bars and films we liked.’ Functioning as both a VIP lounge for their bespoke footwear customers as well as a press showroom, the space has a cosy, curated feel. It is populated with a colourful mix of vintage and custom made furniture, including a pair of bright blue and white Gio Ponti armchairs, re-edited by Molteni, Jean Prouvé’s Cite chair, a pink velvet vintage armchair, and a Mayor of London pink sofa.
Small brogue tables and thin brass stools function as shelving for the brand’s high-end, high heeled shoes, along with a vintage 1940s glass vitrine with steel legs. The space is relatively small so it could get uninteresting really quickly,’ says Luwolt. ‘I hate retail spaces that look like retail spaces. I wanted a more conversational environment.’
Prior to segueing her talents into footwear design, Malone studied architecture in Colorado. Her eye for the unusual keeps things fresh in the space. One wall has been lacquered a shiny juicy orange and features custom-made bronze shelving and support rods. Another wall is covered with over 3,500 tiny oak wood chips that were hand carved over a seven-month period by an English artisan commissioned by Malone and Luwolt. The octagon shaped chips were carefully applied in an uneven wall formation, while another cluster of them slowly seeps over the ceiling. ‘It’s the one thing everyone is curious about,’ Luwolt says. ‘But it really has to do with our hand crafted work, it’s an expression of that.’
Malone Souliers is now taking the imprint and unfurling it on a string of new retail ventures, most recently in Paris and soon to arrive in New York and Miami.