Until December 2019, according to Google Trends, there were next to no searches in the UK for the shoe brand Nodaleto. But then, an explosion: In January of 2020, Bella Hadid stepped out wearing a pair of knee-high, platform-soled boots from the French label, and suddenly the world tuned in and started investigating. The truth is fashion people had already clocked the emergence of this brand and its signature curved platforms. It was the first time in a long time that single-sole, dainty heels were being questioned as the most on-trend option, and you could say that this niche collection of Mary Janes and boots has paved the way for a full-blown stacked-shoe revival. Not only was the aesthetic entirely in check, but the agenda-setting "souliers" brand was created by Julia Toledano, the daughter of Sidney Toledano, the CEO of LVMH, so there was a deep understanding and knowledge baked into the idea from the start. "He asked me, 'Are you sure?' three times!" Julia Toledano told accessories site Monnier Frères. "The advice he gives me every day is to stay true to myself and give everything I can give. And not to want too much too soon. Step by step is the motto!"
Although Toledano was reportedly surprised by just how fervent the adoration was upon launch, the rate at which Nodaleto is finding its way into the coolest of wardrobes is astounding. Dua Lipa—queen of cult brands—has worn a pair of the chunky Mary Janes reminiscent of a "school" shoe style I definitely favoured in the '90s. And, of course, this sighting made everyone want to wear them too: "We noticed a 33% jump in searches for the footwear brand in less than 48 hours," fashion shopping app Lyst reported to me.
Maisie Williams, a bona fide fashion darling in her own right these days, wore pair to the Met Gala as the final gothic flourish to her all-black ensemble. In addition, fashion types at LFW—such as Lucy Williams—wore the instantly recognisable Bulla Babies strappy courts to events and for street style opportunities.
Over on Instagram, the power of these platforms is unmissable. They make for the most impactful shoefies and show up as the avant-garde dresser's number one footwear choice right now. Directional enough to feel like a statement but clompy and practical enough to actually function in, these are the complete opposite of what's been trending in fashion circles for so long now, but they provide a welcome change, and the retail interest is clearly following the feed. "Since the start of the month, demand for the brand increased 74% with the Bulla Babies being the most wanted pair," says Lyst. "The Bulla Babies pumps are generating on average over 3.5K monthly pageviews."
Susanna Lau, aka Susie Bubble, was one of the first high-profile fashion experts I saw supporting the brand. She wore the black Bulla Babies on multiple occasions during Paris Fashion Week a few years back. Combining them with everything from a retro shearling coat to fancy printed dresses, she proved the surprising versatility of such a statement pair of shoes. Then came a recommendation from Sarah Jane Bea, a super-stylish nurse who I follow closely on Instagram for her vintage-tinged aesthetic.
MATCHESFASHION.COM was the first boutique that I noticed stocking the brand a few seasons ago. “We were initially drawn to the Baby Mary Jane heel and the brand’s strong point of view. We loved Nodaleto’s edge and signature heel shape, and at that time, it was always difficult to find chunkier heel options. We were seeing more maximalist silhouettes doing well in RTW, and often it can be challenging knowing what to style these silhouettes back to, so we knew it would be an instant hit," says head of womenswear Cassie Smart. "As these shoes and shapes are hard to find, we knew our customer would engage exactly the same and enjoy the discovery of a new young brand. It’s been a great success, which I also think is down to the distinctive, timeless design. They can easily be dressed up or down—a true wardrobe staple.”
Now the impact of this chunky-shoe cult brand can clearly be seen across the board. This kind of exaggerated style has been omnipresent on TikTok, with smaller, more affordable labels creating their own rad platforms to appease a younger crowd. Start googling "Nodaleto," and you'll quickly be served the suggestion of "Nodaleto dupes," a telltale sign that there's a great deal of interest.
In the world of designer footwear, stompy heels have been introduced by the likes of Christian Louboutin (pretty major development considering it is the name known for stiletto spikes), Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta and Versace. All are at extreme heights rather than the flatforms we've come to expect over the past few years.
So where can you buy Nodaleto shoes for yourself? And which styles should you choose? Below, I've selected some of my favourite styles from the brand that are available to shop today as well as some second-hand, preloved options that look almost brand-new. Now your only decision is whether to go for the socks-and-shoes idea that many a Nodaleto fan is prone to do or whether to go bare-legged for summer.
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