Ayahuasca – In Conversation with Malone Souliers

DISCOVER THE STUNNING, TRANSCENDENT FILM BY DANI GIRDWOOD & CHARLOTTE FASSLER FOR MALONE SOULIERS.

 

 

IT’S NEVER JUST BEEN ABOUT THE SHOES!

When I was first alerted to this video from Malone Souliers, I was instantly intrigued. Ayahuasca is a quite a loaded word and as some may know, is an entheogenic brew capable of inducing altered states of consciousness. Consider this alongside Malone Souliers, a luxury British shoe brand who are quite deservedly becoming one of the most highly coveted labels in the fashion industry, and my brain went into overdrive thinking about what I was about to see. What was immediately clear was that Malone Souliers were thinking far outside the box and this is something that I will always applaud.

For the next seven or so minutes of viewing, I was utterly transfixed. This video was nothing short of challenging but left me with a strange feeling of tranquillity and catharsis. Quite honestly, I was shocked to my core. From my experience, fashion films sell product right? They sell the brand of course. Well this Ayahuasca video was going far beyond that; this was a shock to the system, a jolt to the brain, a beautifully artistic expression of a brand that is so deeply attuned to the creative process that its impact cannot be immediately comprehended on a conscious level. This was transcendent. This was something that had to be viewed again and again.

 

 

Malone Souliers say that:

As a society, we’ve lost the plot. we’re challenged to ascend beyond the cacophony of manipulative wordplay and alternative facts. This is our system of filtration, delivering the bare and raw. It is not numbness we’re looking for, but rather a meditation to jolt your frustration and ultimately awaken: an anticipation of the new world order, whilst treading the tumultuous water of today. Unified we won’t be drowned.

In clarifying our position on Autumn Winter 2017, our creative teams converged in a conceptual location, which would come to be located as Ayahuasca, AZ. Attempting to assimilate the confounding currency of daily affairs of indisputable effect on everyone, everywhere, we journeyed to Arizona via Vegas, settling roadside at a cactus town, homestead to the pure and patriotic, the curious and concerned. A caricature to the notion of endangered individuality, we constructed bar stools of superfluous height, topped in deliberately faux fur seats, flanked by a dilapidated, spirit-soaked bar.

An ode to the inferiority of human governance on a terrain that preceded its occupation, we aimed to highlight the symbolic symptoms of a widely consumed, sparsely informed metaphorical hallucinogenic, resulting in the tremors of an imaginative and fantastical existence, one that intentionally yet unconsciously exists in sparse cultural wilderness.

 

 

 

Now I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss the video with the founders of Malone Souliers and if my viewings of the film weren’t enough, I feel like our conversation took me down the rabbit hole even deeper. Mary Alice Malone (Founder & Creative Director) and Roy Luwolt (Founder & Managing Director) share such a commitment to innovation and it was deeply refreshing to uncover some of the intricacies of two creative and business minds who work from such a pure and connected space.

 

 

I asked Mary Alice whether this film served as Malone Souliers speaking out against a repetitive and sometimes uninspired fashion industry and here’s what she had to say:

I wouldn’t say speaking out against it but I think it’s our way of redefining how we see things going. I tend to approach each season from a very meditative place and a place of very psychological research. I really love the idea that creation and art should be tied to and should come from your emotional well-being. It doesn’t have to be that, “this is pretty and so I’m going to put it on.” Its more that, this identifies with me as a human and my goals, and that I identify with this because of how much I love myself. That sense of Ayahuasca was clearing away everything else in the world and coming from a very pure place of beauty, but also of reconnecting with that meditative mind, body and soul in a place that is stripped so far away from everything, taking away all of the other cues of what one has to be, what a brand is supposed to be what a look book is supposed to be and instead saying, this is our very clear vision.

 

 

One part of the film that I found to be fascinating was the sometimes distorted voice of Roy and Mary Alice’s narration, reminding me of a kind of flickering radio signal that I liken to the effects of meditation as you attempt to quieten the mind, sometimes flowing with the inspired thoughts and sometimes allowing them to float off into the ether. This sense of reconnecting on a meditative level really shone through the film and this from my personal experience, is a direct track to creative inspiration and the transcendence of a sometimes vacuous material existence. To me, Malone Souliers have displayed the raw power of infusing material luxury with spiritual substance and this is why they are arguably in a league of their own.

Here’s what Roy had to say:

My partner and I did not build this business because we needed to, or for any reason other than creating something in the liberty of creating against the tide and against the very normalised restraint of the industry. We were able to make something that really was about the great quality of it and the very integral integrity of making something as good as it can be.

Elitism does not mean separation; it’s understanding the very advantage of fantasy, especially in the world that’s filled with such dark realism, and that’s what luxury has always been. Its giving humanity something to aim for and something to wish for. Not out of the item having a very pragmatic or functional need but because the very process of dreaming of it, wishing for it, hankering for it and working towards it, serves a great benefit to the human spirit.

So where does Roy see the future of the fashion industry?

We don’t think that the industry needs more participants. We think if anything, it needs to be regenerated. What we are doing is participating in what we consider to be a Fashion Version 2.0, to be cheesy about it, because it’s the same space where the creators exist, the people who want to MAKE rather than MAKE IT. It’s a lot more about how we can make the best product with the best of spaces and with the element of individuality. I’m not talking about uniqueness because none of this is unique; it’s all about using the best practice, methodologies and the forgotten insinuations of art and artistry that a lot of people have abandoned simply because of what the industry is saying. Human gratification has turned into an instant need rather than something where we are all very happy to wait for the rare and to wait for the best.

 

 

These words from Roy really hit deep; this is something that we at Fated & Fabled strive to do. Recently, with Venus’ retrograde, I’ve been really taking time to consider why I do what I do and what exactly I gain from it. Working in an industry so concerned with luxury and moving at near enough the speed of light at times, I have fought to slow the process to its most natural rhythm and to unleash product when truly ready, not when we are told to do so. My conclusion was that the process of creation itself is the single most direct route to our divinity and all its intricacies and these processes send a ripple effect out into the world. We are co-creators with the universe and the most effective way of getting in sync with this utter majesty is to transcend our physical world, to take the time for self and the pursuit of authentic, skilled creation.

 

FROM MALONE SOULIERS’ AW17 COLLECTION

 

In the video, we hear Roy say that shoes may be a vanity product, however it is something that lends such strong emotional support, hoisting, elongating and erecting the woman’s spine, to the extent where it is confidence boosting. I was fascinated to hear this and in my mind, he was almost speaking about shoes as if they are spirit animals and an extension of the psyche, something that you can call upon to channel certain power and potential. Our Fashion Director Christobelle Batchelor has always spoken about fashion in this way and this is where I think people have got things a little bit twisted. Lots of assumptions have been made that to connect on a spiritual level, it is unreasonable to have a connection to material luxury. This, in short, is a myth. We are human beings and we cannot completely ignore material connection. What we choose to wear and how we present ourselves to the world can be a rather effective indicator of a person’s psyche, mood and even insecurities. Let’s not fall for the spiritual narcissism that tells us how we must act; we are individuals and the pursuit of luxury and abundance is our birth right. It would then follow that the creation of such luxury is divine. This is what I believe in any case.

FROM MALONE SOULIERS’ AW17 COLLECTION

 

I asked Mary Alice whether I was right in thinking that these shoes were being spoken about as a kind of spirit animal and she answered:

Yeah of course. Each morning we have the privilege of getting up and being whoever we want to be. Women have a lot more liberation than that because we have an enormous variety of clothes and colours, giving us the ability to be one person at 9 o’clock, one person at noon and so on. Shoes give such a tactile experience in that they are changing the way you move, the way you walk and how tall you are. With all of these kind if things, I think they greatly impact upon the human that you are intending to be in that moment.

 

 

Mary Alice continued, discussing what she looks for in the Malone Souliers Woman:

The woman I’m most intrigued by is the woman whose presence you can feel when she walks in the room. Regardless of who she is, what she looks like, how old she is and what her job description is, I’m intrigued by the woman who you can just look at and think, wow, she is so captivating.

Mary Alice then discussed her creative process and how her collections evolve from the initial inception of an idea:

One of the first things you learn as a creator is that whilst you are very emotionally invested in the creative process, you have to be willing for your favourite pieces to get scrapped. You then get pieces that you never imagine evolving into your most prized possessions. It’s important to practice non-attachment and letting things grow as they have to.

This is something that everyone will relate to and it is possibly the most challenging yet enlightening aspect of creation. Everything evolves and sometimes we need to let things go to further grow. This conversation with Mary Alice and Roy really shone a light on some home truths that I myself have to consider.

Here’s what Roy had to say when I asked what he hoped that people may gain from the film and from the collection:

It might be a bit of a sensory overload for some people who expect to see one of the Hadid sisters frolicking in lace. It might sound like we’re hippies and that’s fine. For us, we do not do this unless it feels good. Interestingly, there’s always been a bigger response from purveyors, observers and consumers after they have seen, felt and touched the product in person. There is something to be said for having a stronger emotional reaction after the real-life things happen. If we were the sort to excite the hell out of you pictorially, but when you touch the product in person, you just think, “okay…is that it?”, well that’s the complete opposite of what we do. Ironically and certainly paradoxically, that’s what makes fast fashion.

 

 

I asked Mary Alice and Roy about the feeling of catharsis after seeing this video and whether this was something they themselves had felt. Roy answered that:

What really gets us excited is not when we’re on set, although it’s great to work with other creatives in that space. For us, that’s the continuity of a fantasy that we already live. However, what is a very orgasmic experience with the brand is the moment that Mary Alice designs the shoes and when we finally get to touch and feel them. Everyone gets up and it’s like, “back up, let me have my moment!”

It was quite amazing to hear this and this was something that I closely relate to. When you get to hold and feel that final product, like with our recently printed Zodiac Calendars, orgasmic is the best way to describe it. The actual creative process behind these products and when you are on set creating, well that is literally living the fantasy that we already live in our minds and in our work on a daily basis. The physical manifestation of that creative magic is one of the most powerful feelings I have ever encountered and with Malone Souliers, I can imagine just how incredible it would feel after working from such an authentic and heartfelt space.

As our enlightening conversation came to a close, Roy urged Mary Alice to give a little hint to what is coming for next season (SS18) and she was kind enough to divulge that she had been inspired by the psychological aspect of fairy tales. With Roy suggesting that I may be able to visit them on set in future, this certainly tickled my Fated & Fabled fantasist mind. I genuinely cannot wait to see what divine creations Malone Souliers unleash on the world next!

Words // Gesu Ace
Editor & Creative Director

 

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