JULIA TOLEDANO, OLIVIER LEONE, AND THE WORLD OF NODALETO
words by MARIA MOTA
Playfulness starts with the name of the brand and flows through the designs as JULIA To-Le-Da-No births No-Da-Le-To, as an anagram of her family name. Together with OLIVIER LEONE behind the imagery and artistic vision, the duo is building an aesthetic, and NODALETO is quickly becoming a beloved label amongst this generation (and beyond), with its chunky heels and eye-catching designs.
JULIA and OLIVIER met in Paris, sharing the same energy circles of the city and friend groups. In 2019, NODALETO was born with OLIVIER taking care of strategy and image of the brand on a global scale, while JULIA focuses on the design of the shoes, manufacturing and global management of the company.
“Let’s say that JULIA is the mother of NODALETO, the sparkle at the beginning of the story. She always dreamt about having a shoe brand. I am more of the uncle that came and helped put words and visions together. We now work on a symbiosis system, navigating together.“ OLIVIER shares.
Since the earliest beginnings, TOLEDANO and LEONE shared a similar vision for NODALETO. While each having separate views and perspectives, sometimes different styles and approaches, they find their way to speak the same language when it comes to creativity and bringing their visions to life. “It’s rare to have a connection that strong between two creatives, with such freedom – I’m extremely lucky”, says OLIVIER, “NODALETO is almost like a playground. We are developing multi-verses with different layers. Some people get it, some people don’t. And these layers come from Julia and I’s interactions.”, JULIA adds by saying “the key is that we try to be both good communicators and decision-makers. We complete each other and stimulate our creativity in the needed areas”.
Did you ever imagine you would reach this audience and popularity so quickly?
OLIVIER: We always wanted to speak to a large audience, this is what pop-culture is about, being able to be democratic in a way that you reach the hearts and minds of different people. Nevertheless, we have to stay humble, indeed things worked great for us, but it’s a daily challenge and it’s a time where we have to re-invent ourselves constantly. Gaining popularity isn’t the goal, keeping it is.
“NODALETO was conceived to be relatable, to be relevant.”
“The goal was always relatedness over popularity. NODALETO was conceived to be relatable, to be relevant. It has always been about creating a product that resonated with the cultural zeitgeist of our times, while preserving a design authenticity that makes it timeless. The NODALETO woman persona was at the center of the design focus since the beginning, and ongoing. Popularity was simply the greatest resulting form of validation that we have acquired from being able to capture the essence of our persona and designing specifically for it. “ says JULIA.
For its Spring/Summer 2021 collection, NODALETO collaborates with Japanese artist HARUMI YAMAGUCHI, featuring Yamaguchi’s powerful and vibrant airbrush-painted illustrations. Iconic “Harumi Gals” wear the brand’s signature Bulla heel arriving on silver and pink strappy sandals, showing off dynamism, playfulness, expression, freedom – and a chunk of celery.
“NODALETO speaks a lot about advertising, the energy, and the social satire that comes from it. HARUMI was above all an advertising painter. We fell in love with her approach, these “Harumi Gals” that say so much without formulating it. They speak about freedom for women at the end of the day.”
NODALETO is simultaneously trendsetting and timeless, a blend of style and attitude – truly in sync with the contemporary woman. In JULIA’s words, “The NODALETO woman is a continuously evolving persona who’s experiencing the contemporary world. I like to think of the NODALETO woman as a free-spirited soul that is not striving to fit under a specific category, style, or aesthetic – but rather as an individual who is constantly reinventing herself and experimenting. She is mischievous, unapologetic, fierce but also, kind.”
“A lot of my design conceptions are inspired by the women of the world, the women in the art scene, the women in film, the women in my entourage, in my family and social circles. I feel very passionate about being able to capture their essence and energies, and that is at the root of my inspiration.”
JULIA carried the dream of having her own shoe brand since she was little. After studying law and receiving her master’s in fashion journalism, she still couldn’t shake away the desire of starting her own label. She learned more about design in London, went to Italy to understand manufacturing, and came back to Paris to pursue her dream. Finally, NODALETO was born.
“To always believe in the authenticity of your ideas and to trust in the potential of your dreams, but it is worth saying that success requires a lot of patience and maintenance.” shares JULIA, when asked which advice would she give to anyone that has a dream but seems out of reach.
What was one of the hardest challenges you encountered along the way?
JULIA: Building a team that becomes a family. Consolidating the relationship between individuals and the product, communicating the soul of the brand to the people: it is very challenging to find people who simply get it.
Bulla Jill, at this very specific moment
You will know when the time is right…
A dream location for a store?
The obvious next step is Paris!
Was it always about shoes or could it be something else?
It will always be about shoes, but there can always be room for more…
And lastly, what’s next for both of you and Nodaleto? Dreams and wishes?
NODALETO is going in a new direction, let’s call it an evolution. We hope that people will feel connected with it. We want to make NODALETO a major actor in the shoe world, to reach different layers of customers, to spread a message. Our dream is to create a house, with everything it implies.