Actress Ali McGraw, best known for her role in the 1969 film “Love Story,” is embarking on a new career — shoe designer. The 80-year-old McGraw has teamed up with women’s fashion footwear brand Butter for the spring ’20 debut of a capsule collection under the Ali for Butter label.
While McGraw came to the project with her own vision, the collection is a collaborative effort between her and Lynne Comeau, the brand’s co-owner. “I love what she does,” said McGraw, about Comeau’s design sense. “All the bits that matter are things Lynne has tremendous knowledge about, such as comfort and proportion. We didn’t want to make a lot of shoes with just a celebrity name attached and didn’t have real value. We’re partners on every level, since I’m a complete neophyte to the business. But I’m also a bit of a snob. I believe in very high level–looking shoes. Cheesy is of no interest to me.”
The collection of contemporary looks, made in Italy and Brazil, includes thong sandals, tapered-toe pumps on 2-inch kitten heels, and ballerinas, McGraw’s go-to looks. “I’m not into revolutionary [trends],” said McGraw, “that date you one year after another.”
For the partners, comfort was as important a consideration to the line as style is essential for today’s baby boomers, the collection’s target market. According to McGraw, who spent decades in New York running around and trashing her feet, arch support, cushioning and fuller silhouettes were critical features of the line.
“Comfort is really important, but this is not an old lady brand,” emphasized McGraw, about styles that include a series of vegan looks that pick up silver ornaments inspired by Sante Fe, N.M., not far from McGraw’s and Comeau’s homes in Tesuque. Rounding out the collection are shoes with leather uppers, in addition to eco-crafted styles made with recycled materials. “We both decided in this day and age, it would be incredible if a lot of the shoes were vegan,” said McGraw. “It stems from my passion about animals.”
When it came to sourcing unique eco-friendly materials, McGraw and Comeau turned to Lynne’s husband and company co-owner Dennis Comeau. According to McGraw, some of the fabrics used are made from the muck at the bottom of the Mediterranean. “Every component we use has been checked in depth, so we know what we say is real. It’s so easy and innocent to get trapped into something you think has tremendous integrity.”
The partners met and became fast friends through a serendipitous encounter, when they were introduced by an employee of a small coffee hangout in their small town. It turned out McGraw was already a fan of the Mojo sandal, a thong style from Bernardo, a brand Comeau and her husband and partner, Dennis Comeau, had previously owned. And, McGraw, it seemed, was also was a fan of Butter’s kitten heel styles, which sealed the deal.
For the debut collection, McGraw tapped some existing silhouettes in the Butter line, noting they were comfortable, sexy and beautiful. “These styles just don’t have a 4-inch heel, which I love the look of but can’t wear anymore,” said McGraw. “I think my generation is going to be grateful to show how chic and sexy the shoes are.”
While many brands today are courting young customers, McGraw and Comeau make no apologies about targeting the often forgotten older generation. “Who is there for boomers, especially in shoes,” said Comeau, emphasizing the marketing potential of having an icon like McGraw behind the line.
Set to hit stores in January, the line retails for $250 to $350.
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