Monnier Frères: You started out studying law and then worked as a journalist. How did you end up in design?
Julia Toledano: I have been designing since I was very small. But when you're 18, it's difficult to know which direction to go in. I wanted to do something very serious but I quickly realised it wasn't what I was doing. Footwear has always been an obsession of mine. I slowly realised that I was more attracted to journalism because I wanted to get closer to fashion. Then I became a photo stylist. I assisted Carine Roitfeld, I worked at ELLE, I did a lot of internships... And whenever the deliveries arrived, I always went straight to the shoes! Then one day it just clicked. I said to myself: "I'm 24, if there's a time to start living my life, it's now. "I went to London where I did an a fast-track training course to learn the technical aspects of design, then I toured Italy for six months to study the manufacturing, leather, etc. In my head, Nodaleto has almost always existed, even though the brand itself was only created six months ago
MF: Do you remember your first piece?
JT: It's in the collection! It's the lace-up boot that I designed two years ago. It all started from there. It is inspired by the 70s, and the boots worn by flight attendants at the time. I was obsessed with the block heel and platform, and wanted to redesign them to make them more modern.
MF: It's certainly an unusual heel...
JT: It's very architectural but it's also all about balance. I wanted a heel that is as comfortable as possible but also substantial enough to be seen from all sides. It was very important to me for there to be a distinctive marking on the shoe. This is the Nodaleto signature, featured in a variety of ways in upcoming seasons.
JT: Tangerine is the colour of the brand. Above all, it's a colour that expresses both sex and joy. It also represents the heat of Andalusia, which is one of the origins of my surname, Toledano, the name behind Nodaleto.
MF: Yes, Nodaleto is an anagram of Toledano. How did you come up with it?
JT: I could have used Toledano. But Nodaleto had been my Instagram name for 5 or 6 years already. All my friends called me Nodaleto, and it became my nickname. The name and lineage of Toledano represents an important legacy. Nodaleto is something new, with its own legacy. I was keen to pursue this balance and didn't hesitate to make it the name of the brand.
MF: And your logo?
JT: The pictogram is a sun. Heavily inspired by Moroccan mosaics, yet more contemporary, more rock, with its chic Californian and Parisian feel.
MF: This mix often comes up in the history of the brand...
JT: It's a combination of four destinations: the very hot colours are Andalusia and Morocco. The 90s minimalism is my childhood in Paris and everything western is my Californian dream.
MF: What does the Nodaleto woman look like?
JT: I always give the example of Rachel Green in "Friends". She is hyper-fashionable but at the same time hangs out with her friends and cannot be doing with teetering on 12.5 cm heels. But if she's wearing a pair of Mary Janes, she can leave in the morning and not necessarily know what time she'll be back at night. She just doesn't worry about it.
MF: You are associated with Olivier Leone. How does your partnership work?
JT: Olivier has an image agency. I went to see him with what I had in mind and he seemed to get it the second I entered his office! We've been working together ever since. On all the campaigns, he is the person in charge! We discuss it beforehand, I tell him what I want and he puts it into images.
MF: Do you think the fact that you're a woman designing for women makes a difference?
JT: From a comfort point of view, it's very important. A man will always seek to enhance women, make them more sexy, and the foot is always seen as something sensual. [But] you have to think of everything: all the disadvantages as well as all the desires. When I design shoes, I am partly designing them because I can't find them for myself.
JT: Not at all! I was expecting a little bit of a buzz because of my father's situation, etc. But definitely not all the excitement. I have very much launched what I wanted to launch, I thought "it'll work or it won't"... it turns out it's working! It's a total surprise and now I'm even more motivated to give and to inspire more.
MF: You have chosen to operate with a very limited distribution model. Why?
JT: For the first collection we wanted to test our client base to find out who Nodaleto would appeal to and above all, to choose the stores that suited us and not to be available everywhere. Over the next few seasons, we will expand our distribution network a little, while remaining exclusive in terms of the amounts produced, so that our designs remain an exceptional product.
MF: What is the best advice that your father, Sidney Toledano, gave you?
JT: He asked me, "Are you sure?" ». Three times! (Laughs) The advice he gives me every day is to stay true to myself and give everything I can give. And not to want too much too soon. Step by step is the motto!
MF: You chose the Balagan bar for this interview. Why?
JT: I often come here for dinner. It's Israeli cuisine, it reminds me of the Mediterranean. But the place is unexpected. Without stepping through the curtain, you could never imagine that there is this bar in the restaurant. I love places like that, slightly hidden away. And above all, it reminds me of Nodaleto.
MF: What accessory can't you do without?
JT: My jewellery!
MF: Your first pair of shoes?
JT: A pair of Repettos. Then my mother bought me them in every colour.
MF: What's more important: bag or shoes?
JT: Shoes! I can go out without a bag, but shoes... A beautiful pair of shoes!
MF: If you weren't a designer, what would you be?
JT: I think I would have continued in photo styling. Because I loved mixing things up. But I think I'm in the right place, for the moment!