Shoe designer Salone Monet is changing the way we think about the color nude, and it’s perfect for bridal & Beyoncé!
When I used to think about the color “nude,” a couple of things would come to mind. One of them being my dream of finally finding something that matched my skin tone. The other being a beige color, that in no way, shape or form resembled my honey-tan complexion. Then I met Salone Monet.
Monet instantly changed the way I thought about the word “nude.” Based in New York, Monet has answered many a prayer and shoe designs that are tailored to serving women of color. When I first met her, I was totally blown away by how effortlessly stylish she is. She can often be found wearing head-to-toe neutrals in luxe fabrics—very on brand.
Monet and her shoe line emulate a type of chic that every woman wants to be. When I tried a pair out for myself, not only were they a perfect match for my skin tone, they also made my legs look much longer. The cherry on top, you ask? The shoes are super comfortable, too! I had the chance to sit down with Monet and pick her brain, and of course ask about the recent celebrity who donned a pair: Beyoncé.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I was born in Milwaukee and grew up primarily in the Midwest. But I moved quite a bit. I can’t say I lived in any particularly stylish place, but with the advent of social media, I would see outfits online and try to recreate them with clothes I already owned. My mom always supported me to express my style. She would even drive me to multiple malls and stores to find the homecoming dress that matched the clear vision I had in my head. Then she’d sew the perfect satin ribbon with a row of rhinestones to make the dress look way more expensive than it was. She literally sewed the final touches in the car on the way to take pictures before the dance.
When I moved to NY, I felt like an outsider in the start-up culture and fashion community. I also grew up in spaces where I was often the only Black person, and on the converse in situations where I was teased for not being Black enough. I think this outsider perspective gave me the vision for my company, and the courage to pursue it.
How did you get started designing shoes?
I recognized an issue in the market that wasn’t being addressed. A tonal matching nude heel was something I wanted for myself, so I started working on the first collection.
How did you go from just starting out as a new designer to having your shoe end up on Queen B herself?
I met Zerina (Beyoncé’s fashion stylist) at a Harlem’s Fashion Row Google Fashion Summit. I think it just goes to show how pervasive the nude shoe problem is: That the biggest entertainer of our time is looking for a true nude and found one in my first collection. I asked her how she likes to work, and how she prefers brands to approach. She said via email, so I emailed her assuming she probably wouldn’t get back to me. But she ended up requesting two pairs of shoes! That alone was a huge win for me.
Just having someone at her level in fashion request shoes was a major win, and I celebrated that. I remember taking the shoes to a FedEx store in Midtown Manhattan and having them expedited. I kept telling them to put more filling in the box so they wouldn’t arrive damaged. Then I held onto the receipt like it was a good luck charm. It stayed on our fridge door until we moved.
Where does your inspiration come from?
The inspiration for my first collection came from Black women in media. Every shade is named after a strong Black female. Right now, Bank is my favorite shade. It’s just a beautiful color brown, and I love how the satin has natural reflective qualities; it’s so flattering on any shade. When I first launched this line, I assumed women would purchase the color closest to their skin shade, but I found out pretty early that my customers really just loved that these are neutrals not typically offered by larger luxury brands. I think it just goes to show how things can go overlooked when you have mainly white men dominating in an industry that makes products for women.
What’s the best part of designing your shoes?
Creating and introducing something into this world that is entirely mine. It’s also the scariest part of designing my lines.
What’s your dream for your brand?
I want my brand to be the reason every woman has a real nude heel in their closet. I always want to be the reason people stop making beige products and calling it “Nude.”
Who would you love to see in your shoes?
Meghan Markle, Michelle Obama, Lauren Speed and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Your shoes have a luxe feel about them. Can you share a little about how they are made and what makes them so luxurious?
The current collection is all handcrafted in Italy. The factory is family owned and operated.
In your opinion, what makes a nude shoe perfect for a wedding?
A real nude heel matches the most important part of every wedding dress, the bride! A nude heel highlights the wearer and matches every wedding color palette. If you have a bridal party and want them to look cohesive, but also want to celebrate them individually, having a true skin-matching heel is the way go—especially if your bridesmaids aren’t all the same shade. You wouldn’t ask them to wear the same shade foundation, no need to do it with nude heels.
What do you want our readers to know about you?
The nude heel is the ultimate style utility. This is the little black dress or perfect fitting jean of shoes. Every bride can incorporate a nude heel into her wardrobe today. I see a future where a skin-matching heel is as common as an all-black pump.