Former Barney Fashion Director Marina Larroudé On Launching Her Brand—And What's In Store For An Epic Valentine's Day Partnership!
By Freya Drohan
Marina Larroudé certainly has the resume of dreams—having held many positions at illustrious publications and brands over the last two decades. Always focused on what’s next, she put her foot to the pedal during quarantine and endeavored to finally launch the brand she’d always had in mind. Enter: the fun, fabulous, and functional footwear and accessories brand Larroudé‘. A joint endeavor with her husband, their eponymous line seeks to bridge the gap between mouth-watering design and eye-watering prices. Next on her agenda? Breaking down taboos, by sending customers a hot pink Liberty by Lily Allen WOMANIZER toy with every purchase ahead of Valentine’s Day. Who said women can’t have it all!
Congratulations on the launch of Larroudé! What do we need to know?
Thank you! We think there is a new way of making and selling shoes for the thousands of women that love fashion and a good product, but also don’t want to break the bank while purchasing high quality items. At Larroudé, you will find the most impeccable designer shoes: super comfortable, attainably priced key staples and fun prints that every women needs.
Your resume is so impressive. What’s your backstory and how did you end up getting into fashion?
I’ve always been in the industry, ever since my teen years when I had summer jobs. I’m one of those crazy people for whom fashion is their life. It’s my passion. I started very young, and never stopped—and I don’t see myself stopping ever. From Vogue Brasil to Temperley, Style.com, Teen Vogue, Barneys, and now Larroudé: after 20 plus years, I have done it all. From sales person in retail, to press, wholesale, editorial, digital, and product development… I just love learning every aspect of it!
Did you always think you would one day create your own brand?
Yes. I always knew deep inside that I would do my own thing. But I had incredible opportunities and I wanted the experience to learn from the best before venturing out on my own. I was pinching myself at my first fashion meeting with Anna Wintour, for my first magazine cover with Gisele Bundchen, and the first time I watched a Marc Jacobs show! Even my first trip to Paris for Fashion Week! I also learned so much while at Barneys: meeting with the top CEOs in the industry and learning about the business. I was always pivoting and learning new things. Then, right in the beginning of the pandemic I lost my job. When that happened, I immediately told myself, ‘Ok, this is the time. There are absolutely no jobs out there. So go do your dream.’
Why shoes and clutches? Have you always been a big accessory person?
Yes! I used to do the Accessories Index at Style.com and my editor at the time, Dirk Standen, used to say: ‘Wow, I’ve never seen anyone that excited to see a pair of shoes!’But my passion started at a very young age, probably when I was just six-years-old. I would beg my grandmother for a pair of Mini Melissa shoes! I didn’t want Barbies: I wanted fun, clear, sparkly sandals. I have to say very little has changed since then!
Do you approach designing in similar or different ways than editing?
It’s very lively. We are always exchanging ideas about colors, materials, and shapes. It’s very organic. Then, we sit down and structure the collection based on a woman’s need. The first collection was developed around key staples: the perfect ballet flat, the perfect stiletto boot, the perfect pump, and so on. The kind of staples you can always count on. We are finalizing Fall, and that was a bit different. We are looking at opportunities, while looking at best sellers and evolving from there. It’s inspo + data + dream = results.
The styles are so colorful and fun. Where do you look to for ideas? Are you creating pieces for a gap in your own repertoire?
They are, but the shapes are quite classic. I like to think we are creating collector’s items that you will love and wear year after year and never get tired of it. The same way one does with fun summer dresses and your fall sweaters. You get something new and fresh every year, and you add on to your wardrobe. Every summer, I take my old things from storage (under my bed) and I wear them as if they were brand new. They give me as much joy as they did when I first purchased them. This is what I want for Larroudé: for clients to have fun with the prints, because the price is not prohibitive and they know that the shoe won’t be out of style because it’s unique, not too trendy, and they can style it their own way. We are definitely adding a lot of super “functional” shoes to our collection in the next months too.
What can you tell us about the new partnership with Womanizer?
We want to do things differently. We want to be a platform where humans can relate and connect. We want to break taboos, to start conversations, and to fight for women empowerment. We don’t want to just sell pretty products—that has never been our goal. During the Holidays, I came across Lily Allen’s partnership with Womanizer and I was amazed by it. I love how open and natural she speaks about one of the hardest topics, which is women’s sexuality and pleasure. I immediately connected with Womanizer and asked if they would be interested in a partnership with us for Valentine’s Day. In general, VD is a holiday that is celebrated as a couple, and a lot of people feel left out. One of our mantras is: Don’t wait for Mr. Big/ Mr. Wrong to buy you a pair of designer shoes, buy them yourself. That’s also the reason behind our pricing! So it just came naturally. The partnership, for a limited time only, means that with any purchase at larroude.com, a customer will receive a gift from us: the Lilly Allen Liberty x Womanizer!
You’ve worked across most areas of the industry. What career advice would you give your younger self, given your multifaceted career?
Enjoy the ride: don’t be so anxious and hard on yourself. You are doing great.
What’s it like to be in business with your husband? Does it make the challenges of running a brand any easier?
It’s easier, because he is someone I deeply trust and admire. I respect his vision, his values, and strategic mind. The only down side is that we are always working! Even when we are not, we are always brainstorming on new ideas. Larroudé is our third child. We are in the newborn phase, and it requires lots of attention at this moment.
Larroudé’s first campaign featured a lot of NYC style setters that are also your friends, like Tina Leung and Cathy Paul. Why did you choose to cast your friends for the campaign, as opposed to traditional models?
We want to keep things real, with real people, talking about real things. We did also cast ‘traditional’ models, but they were friends of friends, or we knew them from previous jobs. So we call them part of the family. We also featured their stories. We interviewed them, published their names, passions, dreams. Larroude is about that…You. Us. We. All.
What’s next for Larroudé? What can we expect?
We will start broadening our distribution—through other partners and our QR code. We want to transform each of our clients as a potential ambassador for the brand. We will also expand our product line: people love our hoodies and we will get a few cool ones done—for a cause. I can’t wait to share it with you!