By Alexander Patino
Australia’s answer to
Blahnik and Louboutin
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more ebullient and genuine personality in the world of fashion than that
of Mary-Kyri, Australia’s answer to Blahnik and Louboutin. One of the crown jewels of high fashion in her
native country, Mary-Kyri explains that none of the acclaim, nor the overwhelmingly positive response to
her impressive repertoire thus far came easily. Hard-work, rigor is the thread to her story, which takes
her from Australia to Italy and back.
Her zest for life is infectious. She’s a die-hard morning person – one of the roll out of bed, ready to tackle
the day by the horns-type. Speaking over Skype she couldn’t stop asking about New York City, it being
one of her favorite cities in the world. There was a bit of youthful need for an osmotic experience, trying to
breathe in the city, even if it came in the form of a blasé description of the muggy weather. She was also
adamant about the fact that we speak face to face, even if we were thousands of miles and oceans
away from each other, via Skype. Unlike many designers who see the interviewing process as an
occupational hazard, Mary-Kyri indulges in it, insisting on the one-on-one repartee so that her
interviewer gets the real picture of just how much passion she has for what she does. Let’s just say she
could fuel Times Square for a night with that kind of passion. It’s real.
Throughout the chat, Mary-Kyri graciously opens up the initial sparks that led her to where she is today,
how she juggled three degrees that have almost nothing to do with shoes, what it feels like to design
her own wedding shoes and how one single ordinary dinner with her father set the course for what
would become her destiny.
FASHION Q+ A: Mary, I know that the initial kindling for your love of shoes comes from you ruminating in your
mom’s closet when you were younger. Is there a specific pair that you remember?
MARY KYRI: I remember that she had this Dell Acqua stiletto. It was a peep-toe slingback stiletto. It just had a strap
over the toes about 3 or 4 centimeters wide in suede and it had a contrasting, really thin piping threaded through the
black suede. You know those shoes that you find these days that the lingerie stores sell? The style was like that. You
had to be a real pro to walk in those. They were really high. It was a 12 inch stiletto. In those days they didn’t put plastic
tips on the heel – they used metal tips, so if you slipped it would be quite the fall. I thought: “If I can walk in these, I can
walk in anything.”
Q+A: Did you ever envision that you would be the designer of your own wedding shoes?
MK: When I was younger I only thought I’d be one of three things: A psychologist – I actually got a counseling degree;
I actually got accepted into psychology at university. So I always wanted to help people, but somehow in something
creative and be able to express something uniquely. So, psychology wasn’t fulfilling me in that way. I also wanted to
work in fashion.
Q+A: You also got a degree in fashion design, right?
MK: I did and I also got a business degree as well. I did a double whammy at that time, I did both. I was studying about
80 hours a week. It was insane. It was a little crazy.
Q+A: Is this where your trip to Italy come into play? After all this work and time you put in, I’m sure a new venture
and a new landscape was something you needed as a result, right?
MK: Once I graduated I was offered a number of positions. I was doing some trade sketching and designing for some
Australian designers and at that point I was having dinner with my father, we were sitting in a restaurant. He looks at
me says, “Mary-Kyri, if it doesn’t fill your heart and your passion 100%, don’t do it. There’s something right around the .
|"I can do any type of shoe. The thing is that
I need that shoe to have an elegant essence."
corner for you.” And I didn’t love the clothing 100%. There was just a little bit missing and for me, that little bit is enough. And so he goes, “Why don’t you design shoes? You spend enough
money on them. I mean, I spend enough money on them for you. Your face lights up whenever you purchase a pair. You change into a different person. Just design them.” That’s how it
happened. From that I designed ten pictures and put them in the back pocket of my jeans, packed some clothes in a small suitcase, caught a flight to Italy, stayed there for six weeks looking
The Mary-Kyri story began with
her childhood fascination for
Q+A: So you didn’t go there with any contacts. You found your contacts there.
Q+A: Is there any particular style of shoe that you will never entertain designing?
MK: I can do any type of shoe. The thing is that I need that shoe to have an elegant
essence. You know these big space-age platforms that are maybe 10 centimeters of pure
platform? You’ll never see me do something like that. I don’t know where the femininity is
Q+A: I understand that apart from “Mary-Kyri Sportz”-your more casual sneaker line,
you have another project that just debuted this year.
MK: It’s a bridal couture and evening collection. It’s made from silks and French lace. It’s
a very beautiful collection and the response has been incredible. The materials are quite
simple, the silks, but they’re very high quality. The lace is more intricate. I haven’t added
beadwork and diamante and crystals and all that crap to the lace, because it is so
exquisite and chic in and of itself. I’ve just had to keep up with the demand. I’ve already
had 25 of the best bridal boutiques and chains in Australia that are taking them on.
Q+A: Is there a campaign associated with this new foray into bridal couture?
MK: Yes. The slogan is “You Will Never Part”. The women love the shoes that much –
there’s such a strong emotional connection between them and their new heels that she’s
even wearing them in the bath. I didn’t shoot that, but I directed that photo shoot and
developed the campaign, so I was literally next to the photographer and I told him “You
need to shoot this woman in the bath.” We’re also running a second campaign –
“Diamonds for One’s Feet”. We’re doing a commercial, photo shoots and the whole
campaign is going to be built around these two slogans. The bride will have a choice
between the shoes and the husband and naturally – she goes with the shoes.