“With naked foot stalking in my chamber
I have seen them gentle, tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember”
– Thomas Wyatt, 1557.
Even before her time as a designer, Mary Alice Malone had always been fascinated by the paradoxical essence of the high heel. The tension of empowerment and vulnerability, of push versus pull, of concealment or revelation – and the power of the high heel to transform one’s self, both physically and psychologically. “My team always smile at me as we start to conceptualise a new season”, says Mary Alice. “They often find my thought process quite amusing or bewildering – which is exactly what I seek. I’ve found there is great beauty to be found in theoretical design and the lessons we can take and share from this approach.”
The new collection, aptly titled ‘The Laboratory of Ideas’, saw Mary Alice turn to the Eastern school of Alchemy for inspiration and further insight into the concepts of self-expression and self-actualisation. How a simple object or act can have a significant impact on our own identity and the longevity of its transformational power thereafter. Unlike the Western School of Alchemy, which focuses on self-serving attempts to transmute base materials into gold, The Eastern School explores the transmutation of the individual – spiritually, physically and ideologically. Interestingly, this philosophy identifies the foot as the ‘bubbling spring’ of transformative energy.
Behind the scenes with the Marilyn and Maureen
As she delved into the idea of the shoe as object of desire, icon of design and conduit for personal expression, Mary Alice uncovered the notion that a shoe can fundamentally impact the way we move through space, relate to others and feel about ourselves. This concept was examined in what Mary Alice refers to as a ‘Laboratory of Ideas’ - a space in which designs are imagined and created in the physical world – but, additionally, the space where she experiments, tests and examines both the physical and more obscure effects of her creations.
The Lucia in Lime Green Satin
The campaign portrays a space of high creativity, curiosity, humour and pragmatism – a blending of aesthetic values and scientific facts, of exploration and playfulness. Where the angles that a high heel impose on the musculoskeletal structure of a woman’s body are examined with as much vigour as the malleability of particular suede or the positioning of a buckle on a men’s loafer. Where the boldness of a low-cut vamp is as important as comfort of the shoe to walk in. Where a bond between object and self-expression is meticulously hatched. And where we ask our audience to delve into the magical process of transmutation that unravels in the teachings of Alchemy.
Watch The Campaign