By Mary Alice Malone
If one Malone Souliers shoe was to represent the brand in a design museum in 100 years time, it would be Maureen. When I started Malone Souliers, mules were not at the height of luxury fashion. They had gotten a bad rap; they could stick to your foot, they made that flip flop-like sound. I strongly believed the curves of a mule suited the female body - I never understood putting a straight line on a body that is anything but.
The arch strap, which has become a Malone Souliers trademark, was originally added to secure the fit. I was convinced that the first Maureen sample was going to turn out horribly as I was so excited about it - that always seems to be the way. I was wrong, the first ever sample was full-on amazing and fit the foot really well. Malone Souliers’ Maureen mule was born.
I drove around Italy knocking on doors when I started out and I got to know the craftsmen like family. The artisans who had passed these skills down for generations were now to make my designs a reality. Each pair of Maureen mules can take up to a week to make. One expert cuts, one stitches, one mounts, one cleans the final shoe and assembles the pair in their box, whilst another oversees the process - teamwork is crucial every step of the way.
The first stage of making shoes by hand is called clicking. This is the process of hand-cutting the recognisable, wave-like silhouette of Maureen’s uppers. The term derives from the ‘click’ sound that the cutting knife makes as it is removed from the leather.
The second stage is stitching. Maureen’s uppers are fastidiously stitched by expert seamstresses on sewing machines. Our signature straps are handcrafted, with our Nappa leather or mirror finishes individually glued onto every strap.
Next comes mounting and then lasting, this is the process of manipulating the upper in order to ensure the perfect fit on the last - the anatomical copy of a foot that shoemakers craft upon. It is then glued and nailed in place. During sanding the bottom of the shoe is smoothed with a sanding machine, leaving an even surface for the sole to be attached to.
Our sweeping heels echo the iconic curves of Maureen’s upper. Each heel is carefully and precisely hand-covered in leather. Once every part of the upper has been glued and stitched, we nail in the heel and proceed to fully attach the sole.
The finished shoes are placed on trolleys and moved to the finishing area. Here the sole protectors, which protect the soles from any scuffs or marks whilst in production, are removed. Each Maureen shoe is then cleaned, ensuring any residue of glue is removed. The shoe is taken off the last and trimmed. Our trademark sock with a gold-foiled and stamped logo is then applied by hand - the finishing touch. Creases are smoothed out with a hand iron and a final polish takes place.
Every pair of shoes is stuffed with tissue paper to avoid any marks on the socks. They are tucked into our 100% cotton flannel dust bag and positioned inside our gold-stamped, navy-blue shoe boxes. I am proud to be able to say that we use no plastic in our packaging. I would always recommend that your Maureen shoes are stored in their dust bags inside our shoe boxes - which look wonderful on a shelf. These boxes can also be recycled as needed.