It-Girl Mari Giudicelli Dishes on Her New Shoe Line

It-girl Mari Giudicelli is launching her premiere shoe line and the world is waiting. STYLEBY hooked up with the style maven to get the inside scoop on her new career.

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Your first collection features four silhouettes – how did you choose them?
”I wanted to create timeless, comfortable shoes, so I worked on classic silhouettes, but updated them with contemporary material combinations and colorways. I started with the mule, and from there I developed the other styles.”

Did coming up with your designs take a lot of time – or come easily? ”There’s a lot of refinement from the first sketch to the final product. I usually start working with leathers, creating forms, rather than sketching. I find a blank piece of paper very intimidating, while the 3D aspect of lasting gives me a lot of freedom to create. After making the first sample, I flew to Brazil to visit the factory and they made me a sample with the materials we sourced together. From there we did another couple of adjustments, and there it was. The final samples were made and those are the ones I showed to the buyers at market week in NY.”

Why do you find footwear more fun than garment design (Marie has also studied clothing design)? ”I like the sculptural aspect, the weight of it. I also believe a shoe can make an outfit.”

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Describe your personal style? ”Practical, utilitarian, industrialist. My wardrobe consists of mostly vintage, with some new designer pieces, and I always wear them together. I love thrifting. I find amazing things I can actually afford and also and build relationships with vendors. I always ask where they found the piece I’m buying. They love having conversations, and always have a nice story to tell. I was afraid of color for a long time, all my clothes were black, white, tan and navy. But like everything else it evolved, to a more elaborate palette. Some days I feel like wearing the devil’s black kit and a leather jacket; but I’ve been enjoying coordinating colors and having fun with it.”

What are you wearing right now? ”Vetements jeans, Sleepy Jones shirt, barefoot.”

You’ve worked with your friend Maryam Nassir Zadeh. What shoe making and business tips have you picked up from her? ”We talk business more than design, because you know, running a brand is ten percent designing, ninety percent numbers. I do everything myself, from design to sales, to PR, marketing, social media and shipping. She (Maryam) is a huge supporter, and having her endorsement means a lot to me. Knowing your customer, and dealing with people is something very important that I keep learning from her. She also designs her collection, manages her store, showroom, and her two kids. It’s very inspiring to see her do it all.”

What is your strength as a shoe maker? ”I know how to make patterns so that’s very helpful when you’re designing. You know what’s realistic and what’s not. My background in fine art gives me a good sense of use of colors, which is key in any collection.”

You produce the shoes in your native Brazil – was that important to you for reasons beyond quality?  ”Brazil is going thru a difficult political and economic moment. Many footwear manufacturers closed their doors after China’s prices got competitive. The factory I’m working with is the right one for me as they are family owned, operated, and were willing to experiment with my designs. It’s a win-win.”

Are you focusing exclusively on shoes now, or do you still model and shoot pictures? ”I still model. I am a designer, who models for specific brands where I feel I can actually embody the idea or vision that company is trying to convey. Modeling also helps me get a better understanding as a designer, of how to create cohesive collections, and to work with people. Photography is a hobby. I’m constantly shooting things and people that inspire me.”

Do you remember the first shoes that made an impact on you? ”I wish! I’d totally buy them on eBay or something.”

How much do New York and Brazil influence your designs? ”I grew up in Rio, and there’s a different sense of time and style there. Everything is very laid back. That can be found in my designs, how subdued, unobtrusive and unfussy they are.”

How do you describe your aesthetic? ”I have an endless list of words: Quiet. Inconspicuous. Endearing. Unobtrusive. Low-key. Minimal. Austere. Constitutive. Holistic. Permanent. Subdued. Sincere. Truthful. Steady. Empowering …”