Shoes Fit for a Queen: Amina Muaddi - The Best Footwear Designer
By: Pamela Dimitrova / Arab America Contributing Writer
Christian Louboutin is famous for his red soles, Manolo Blahnik for his crystal buckles. As for Amina Muaddi? She’s got a heel that flares out like a Cubist take on a Doric column and is so distinctive that people stop her on the street. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Kendall Jenner and Dua Lipa are fans of her. In October she was named Designer of the Year for the 2019 Footwear News Achievement Awards. Another fan is Queen Rania of Jordan, who wore a mauve pair of courts on her most recent diplomatic visit to London, to meet with the Queen.
But who is Amina and how did she influence the fashion world so much?
Living in different cultures
Amina Muaddi was born 33 years ago in Romania, to a Jordanian father and Romanian mother. She and her family moved to Amman a few weeks after her birth. Her parents divorced when she was six and she returned to Romania. “My childhood is a blur,” she says in an Vogue Interview. “I wasn’t aware of what my mom did to help me as a child and it took me years to understand. The opportunities I have today are mostly because she took me out of Jordan. Not because it’s not a good place to live, but because my dad is very conservative and probably would not have liked for me to have a career.”
The designer and entrepreneur remembers telling her mom, at nine years old, that she wanted to be in fashion. “I was into fashion because of her; she was very chic, with a big shoe closet, and she dressed me very well,” she recalls.
Rather than remain in post-communist Romania, she moved just at the age of 16– alone – to Brescia, outside Milan, to continue her schooling. She graduated second in her class and furthered her education at the European Institute of Design, where she studied fashion communication for three years.
Setting the ‘new’ fashion rules
In a Vogue interview, she says “They’re very comfortable – but I didn’t design them with that in mind,” says Amina Muaddi, with a strong 204,000 Instagram following. “The flared heel is great on grass and gravel, because you get the femininity of a thin stiletto heel with the cool and the comfort of a platform. I can wear them all day long.”. When it comes to her aesthetic, there is a strong desirable factor with her line; her pieces are sassy, sophisticated and flirty so you’ll want to be wearing these shoes in the morning well into the night. They also feature a super distinctive geometric heel which means you can spot a Muaddi design from a mile away. Every heel and every boot brings with them an aura of understated glam and vintage glamour.
Where does she finds inspiration? As a self-described curious person, Muaddi is always “looking.” “It’s one thing to be educated, and another to know things. I admire perseverance, talent, and ambition. I see it in every field, whether it’s a writer, artist, or entrepreneur,” she comments, citing Steve Jobs, Beyoncé, and Malcolm Gladwell as people she holds in high regard. “There’s no perfection, but I strive for something to be as good as it can be.”
Creating a brand
Muaddi has been on the fashion scene for a while, but she only went solo with her shoe brand last year. Growing up in Italy was always an inspiration for Muaddi to want to design shoes, but she first sought out a career working at magazines—an invaluable network for any fledgeling designer. She attended the European Institute of Design and worked as a stylist at L’Uomo Vogue and GQ, ensuring she understood the world of fashion before completely fulfilling her dream.
In pursuit of following in the legendary footsteps of footwear designers like Manolo Blahnik, Muaddi travelled to Italy’s famous shoe-making district, Riviera del Brenta, to learn the trade and co-founded her first brand, Oscar Tiye. Following that, Muaddi then moved to Paris, where she collaborated with French couturier Alexandre Vauthier on the launch of his shoe line. It is this mix of traditional training, exposure to fashion’s most influential and general worldly taste that laid the foundation for her own personal expression through her own line of shoes. Muaddi continues to work alongside the designer, but it has been the launch of her own line that is spreading like wildfire amongst the fashion crowd and celebrity elite.
With her own label, Amina Muaddi has found the freedom to create a silhouette in her heels that is now instantly recognizable: The heels of her shoes flare out to creating a unique architectural effect but also an extremely comfortable base.
It’s this silhouette, most famously associated with the Gilda mules, that has gained cult status, and Muaddi now counts multiple celebs (including Dua Lipa, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner and Rosie) among her repeat customers.
You can shop her shoes here!
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