PARIS — A life in the shoe business: Julia Toledano has poured all her energy into realizing that dream, with her footwear brand — dubbed Nodaleto and inspired by her family heritage — launching today.
After studying law and dabbling in journalism and styling, including a stint under Carine Roitfeld at CR Fashion Book, the young creative — daughter of Sidney Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Fashion Group, and Katia Toledano — did a quick course in shoe design at the London College of Fashion, then spent a year touring the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton factories in Italy to learn the métier from scratch. She also spent time at factories that supply heels to a lot of the major brands, as well as tanneries in Venice and Florence.
“I decided I really wanted to focus on the product, which is what I love, and shoes have been one of my obsessions since I was young. I already had all these ideas,” said Julia Toledano, who teamed with Olivier Leone to oversee the brand’s identity.
The direction of the debut collection — “American-Mediterranean minimalism” — takes inspiration from four cities and eras that have links to Toledano and her family’s roots: Casablanca in the Fifties; Malaga in Sixties; Los Angeles in the Seventies, and Paris in 1990.
The brand’s signature color is “tango tangerine,” also a symbol of the sunset. “It’s a luminous color and the Nodaleto girl is full of light and joyful. There’s no dark side, it’s a happy brand,” she said.
“Nodaleto for me represents the heritage of everything, not just in terms of inheriting the love of product from my father.”
The debut collection houses 24 styles linked by a unifying square architecture that will be carried over, but with different accessories, heel heights and leathers.
Models include the Bulla Corta tube boot, a tribute to the Pan Am airline stewardess boots from the Sixties; the Babies Bulla, a spin on the mary jane with two straps, and the Bulla Lace-up, a tribute to the iconic Seventies hippy boot, with an architectural spin. Materials include velvet strass, napa leather and supple rubber.
The collection includes a jewel spur for the line’s Western Bulla Mule, designed in collaboration with jewelers Marco Panconesi and Alican Icoz, with Toledano looking to include stones with healing virtues each season, working with different artists.
The first challenge for the footwear was nailing the comfort factor. “That’s all my mum kept saying, ‘It has to be comfortable,’” said Toledano, who road-tested them all herself.
The brand is also working with the Showing Love showroom to map out its sustainable goals.
The first collection will be delivered mid-June, with their strategy based on partnering with the best department stores plus “complementary fashion stores” in the major cities. They’re kicking off with a pop-up shop at Le Bon Marché in September.
“The idea is to have a product that is on another level in terms of quality. When you pay a certain price for product, it’s important that what you represent is not just a brand, but [know-how], and the know-how at Nodaleto is extremely noble. We work with the best suppliers and factories,” Leone said.
The pair is also in talks to collaborate with other brands. “We’re part of a clique, with brands following the project with whom things will happen. We want to be seen more as a lifestyle brand than simply a shoe brand; it’s a whole universe,” he said, adding that they worked with Avoir on the merchandising for the first collection, inspired by Pantone and Pierre Paulin.
On how much guidance she received from her father, meanwhile, Toledano, 25, said he has been “watching from a distance.”
“But I would prefer it to be that way than for him to get too involved in the project, I want to do this on my own,” she said, adding that he gave some advice on leathers, “seeing as he’s a specialist.”
Concluded the designer: “It’s a lot of pressure, but my aim is that he comes into the showroom and goes, ‘Wow.’”