Leontyne is a brand of beautifully handcrafted shoes created by partners Mahsa and Nima Idelkhani. The duo genuinely care about animal welfare and the shoes are cruelty free. Before you visit their website at www.leontyne.com.au, take some time to read this interview with one half of Leontyne and talented designer – Mashsa.
Where does the name Leontyne come from?
To come up with the name for our label we had to define our image, we wanted to have a name that described our ideal woman, alluring and fearless. Leontyne means ‘like a lion’ in French and we chose it because it fit perfectly.
Tell us a little bit about your designs…
Our designs are handmade and cruelty free. We wanted to create shoes that are unforgettable and are made using animal friendly materials.
What is the process of creating these handcrafted shoes?
I always surround myself with inspirational material as much as possible and then go about sketching as many designs as I can. After selecting my favourite designs I then obsess over the sketches until I feel they embody the essence of that collection. The next step is to select fabrics and decide the main colours for the range; this can take from an hour up to a few days. Then it’s time to create the samples, to me this is the hardest part as I need to ensure my designs are produced flawlessly so they come out the exact way I have envisioned them.
What is it like working so closely together?
We have been married for almost four years and find it very thrilling to be working together. Nima and I have input on every aspect of Leontyne but ultimately each of us has a certain responsibility within the label. I take care of the design and production side while Nima takes care of advertising and marketing. What I love the most is that I can wake my ‘business partner’ up at 4am and ask “what do you think of this design?” and that we can talk about our next campaign over dinner.
Who is the Leontyne woman?
The Leontyne woman is lion-like by nature, she is fearless, dominant and beautiful.
How did the brand get started?
I had been working in a job for three years where I had no creative outlet. I found myself doodling every chance i got and started noticing how much I loved sketching shoe designs. As a vegetarian, one of the biggest issues I had was finding shoes that were cruelty free and trendy in Australia, so I would sketch unique shoe designs that I would love to wear and that were made of animal cruelty free material. One night i had a discussion with Nima and told him how much I would love to design shoes. After a few months of research we knew where we had to go to take this obsession of mine to the next level.
We took a 3 week trip overseas to meet with manufacturers, textile factories and fabricators. After we came back we knew we had a chance to go all in and create Leontyne, and so here we are with our first range of heels.
How do you select which materials to use?
Of course all materials used must be 100% cruelty free. When we took a trip overseas we met with a lot of textile manufactures and we made sure first hand that the material used were man-made and free from animal materials. The materials are selected once the feel of the collection has been decided; this usually includes several types of patterns, textures, embellishments and faux furs…we love our faux furs!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from a variety of sources. My biggest source of inspiration is from music, it allows me to capture an emotion and express it through my designs. For example if i listen to music with heavy instrumentals my designs lean more towards the dramatic tones and have a more striking presence.
Who are your favourite Australian designers?
Our favourite two Australian designers are Collette Dinnigan and Bec & Bridge. They have both individually made an impact on the Australian fashion industry.
Was it difficult creating fashion that is 100% animal cruelty free?
It has actually been a lot simpler than we had imagined. The array of man-made and synthetic material available with today’s technology is endless. Saying that we still have to be strict with our manufacturers and ensure they understand the reasons behind our cruelty free policy.
We hope our label, Leontyne, can help influence fellow Australians to choose animal friendly products.
What’s next for Leontyne?
We are currently in the process of completing our next range. It’s all about metallics, glitters and lustrous jewels.
What does being a designer mean to you?
To me it means that I have this privilege of bringing my imagination to life while I help people become more aware of animal welfare. What I love the most is that women are able to express their mood through my shoes and wear them as an extension of themselves.