Fashion / Style File

Giving Up Life as a Doctor for the Love of Shoes

Stylish Former Podiatrist Proves Beautiful Shoes Can Be Comfortable

BY Addison Anthony // 05.12.17

Former podiatrist Marion Parke knows feet — so much so that when she opted to dramatically switch careers she still stuck with feet, launching a namesake luxury shoe label in 2015. Now, her collections are produced in the same Italian factories as Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik.

Ahead of her personal appearance Friday (May 12) at Dallas’ Stanley Korshak (meet Parke during her trunk show until 4 pm), we asked what convinced her to begin designing shoes, and learned how her design process differs from others in the market. Hint: Parke’s patent pending insole is key.

How did you come to the decision to move from doctor to designer?
I was tired of standing in front of my closet and thinking, ‘These shoes are beautiful, and many of them are very expensive, but I can hardly walk in them.’ I knew I could take what I know as a podiatrist and tastefully integrate that into a beautiful shoe. Like many designers, I saw a void in my closet and wanted to fill it.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
In my everyday life: museums, travel, apparel. My husband and I recently bought a home, and I’ve been looking at interiors quite a bit. I love everything that Kelly Wearstler does and was really inspired by her for Resort 2018.

How do you describe the aesthetic of your collection?
It’s always two-fold: polished and ladylike on one side, then cool and edgy on the other.

Your ideas about physics and fashion seem very modern, yet you use a traditional Italian manufacturing process for your shoes.
The Italian production process from start to finish is the best in the world. In Italy, they understand the art and aesthetic of beautiful shoes and also the importance of fit.

In order to produce a beautiful shoe that also incorporates my unique insole, we had to adapt some of the machinery in the factory because the machines are built for a flat insole, whereas mine is contoured. There were many people along the way who couldn’t imagine my insole as a discrete part of the shoe and thought it would be ugly.

We’ve integrated it seamlessly into each design. Without trying on the shoe or pointing it out, the insole is easily missed, which is exactly what I wanted. No one wants to announce they’re wearing arch supports.

Where do you source materials?
We source from all of the best tanneries in Italy. We have a phenomenal production team who knows exactly where to go for the highest quality materials. They’ve been in the footwear industry for decades and know where to find the best of everything, from suede to hardware.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned after changing careers?
There have been a lot of surprises. Before I got started, I didn’t know that the footwear production chain is tremendously complex. There are multiple suppliers and factories who have to coordinate. A skilled and knowledgeable production team is essential.

What innovations in the shoe industry should we be looking for in the future?
For Resort ’18, we’re experimenting with stacked leather that is laser cut in very thin slices to produce some beautiful patterns and detail. It’s a relatively new technique. If someone didn’t know about the special production step with the leather, one might think the design was printed. I can’t wait to show these styles.

Marion Parke footwear, at Stanley Korshak, 500 Crescent Court, 214.871.3600.

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