Amina Muaddi, Shoe Designer


“I’m half Romanian, half Jordanian—I grew up all over the place. I lived the first seven years of my life in Jordan. We were very immersed in family there, and I have a lot of colorful memories from that time. When my parents separated, I moved to Romania with my mom. I grew up in this culture of beauty—my mom would never go out without her makeup. She would take her time—that’s where I get it, being slow at everything—but it was perfect.

My mom’s sister is married to an Italian, and so I would go to Italy all the time. When it was time for high school, my mom felt comfortable sending me to Italy to study, and then I attended the European Institute of Design after I graduated. I was always into fashion—my classmates would make fun of me, saying, ‘Oh, Amina went to preschool with Stefano Gabbana and Domenico as teachers.’ I thought I would be a big editor first, and then have a brand. I moved to New York doing celebrity styling with Michael Nash, who was the editor of GQ. We were working with Justin Timberlake, the Jonas Brothers, Joan Jett—I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I told Michael I was dreaming of having a shoe brand, and he was like, ‘You don’t have to wait to live your dreams—you just have to do it, if that’s what you feel.’ So, I moved back to Milan and started going from supplier to supplier, building and ordering components for my shoes. Literally, I had two artisans helping me, and a little plastic bag. It was crazy, but I was so enthusiastic about everything that I didn’t care.

I've always loved shoes—I was always spending my last penny in university on designer shoes. I honestly don’t know how many shoes I own, but it's in the hundreds. My first [designer] pair was little kitten heels when I was 14. Every time I would be naughty or misbehave, my mom would punish me by not allowing me to wear them. I know a lot more about shoes now that I design them. It’s hard to make shoes that have the comfort, the femininity, the quality, and that cool factor—it’s really a sculpture that has to look great and feel great. A shoe has about 40 components. You have to order the components, have them made, and then assemble the final product only when you have everything. If one thing is missing, you can’t make the shoe. The two most important things are the last and the heel—they have to be perfect. I build my own last and my own heels, fully from zero. Orthopedically speaking, the ideal height to walk on, is 3cm—not fully flat. It’s much better for your health and your back. My flat is a 4cm heel. I used to do higher heels, but this time I wanted women to have a heel they could wear throughout the day and then go to cocktails—a 9AM to midnight type of shoe.

In the morning, I wash my face with either Dr. Sebagh’s Foaming Cleanser or the Cleansing Foam from La Mer. I love both of them. After that, I like to apply P50 PIGM-400—I started using this, and I became addicted to it. It purifies the skin, and it helps removes the sun stains if you have some. As far as face serums, I’m using one from Biologique Recherche now—Extrait Tissulaire—which is hydrating and revitalizing. I also use the vitamin C one from Skinceuticals, which I recently finished. I use it a lot. Actually, there are two other vitamin serums I like—one from Susanne Kaufmann and the pure vitamin C powder from Dr. Sebagh. I like that it’s glow-boosting. Dr. Barbara Sturm has a lot of good face serums, too—now I’m using the Brightening Serum. I get a lot of freckles and I enjoy them, but for the stains it’s better to have protection. I also have an eye serum from La Mer, and I use La Mer eye cream. And then I apply the cream. I usually use the Soft Cream, but now I’m also using Biofixine from Biologique Recherche. It seems to be hydrating and easier to wear—if you put makeup on it doesn’t make your skin look greasy. And then I wear SPF. I like Clarins, or Lancaster, or La Mer.

If I have something important to go to at night, I do an AHA mask. I like the Deep Exfoliating Mask from Dr. Sebagh, or this Bionica mask. It’s a very cheap mask from the pharmacy in Italy—I think they have it everywhere—that does a little peel in one minute. I’m not patient, and I don’t like to wait for a mask, but this immediately shows the difference. I use the Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask from time to time, but it’s very dehydrating. I also love the Clarifying Mask from Tata Harper. Green. Very good mask. When you have a pimple, you apply it on the spot and it goes away. They do facials with Tata Harper products at Le Bristol, in Paris. There are a lot of facials I’ve tried here in Paris, but my favorite is at Biologique Recherche. Their mask, Masque Vivant, is very good, and it’s kind of the same concept as the Tata Harper one. I also love the KNC Beauty eye and lip masks, or the patch masks from SK-II when I travel. If I’m dehydrated or tired after a long plane ride, it’s easy.

My beauty icons are Audrey Hepburn, and Brigitte Bardot. Very opposite. Elizabeth Taylor... I just love retro makeup. Now, because of our photoshoot, I have on more than I probably would, but it’s more or less the same. I use an illuminating base, whether it’s Tom Ford Complexion Enhancing Primer or MAC, the Strobe Cream. I put it on my eyelids, too—it’s a bit shiny bronze-y, but it doesn’t show. Usually during the day I avoid using foundation because even if it’s light, it still shows. But today I put Tom Ford Traceless Foundation SPF 15 in shade 7.5 Caramel. When I’m tan, I use one or two shades darker. Concealer is the most important to me because I have a bit of dark circles—you know, Middle Eastern stuff. I use a concealer palette from MAC, the Pro Correct Palette in Medium Deep, because based on my tan or non-tan, I can use the shades I like. I’m not very light skinned, you know? I struggle finding things for my skin in Europe—especially in Italy. I apply powder on top of my concealer, otherwise it becomes all smudgy. And then I use this product from Tom Ford all the time—the creamy contour, Shade and Illuminate. I use the darker shade, and after that, blush. I like the ones from MAC, or the Hourglass palette—very transparent. I don’t like to see texture on my face.

Then I use mascara. I use Yves Saint Laurent Noir Absolute—it elongates and curls, and it’s just blacker. I like that. For my eyebrows, I like a pencil—I use one from Benefit. I hate shaping them, but I like a little bit extra, you know? And then I like on my brow bone the same creamy highlighter that I put on my cheekbones. I use lip liner, because my lips are not defined. I use either Strip Down or Oak from MAC—just the natural brown color my lips should be. I like the MAC Hint of Color Lip Oil in Pale Princess and the lip oil from Kiehl’s. I prefer the Kiehl’s, actually. It doesn’t last a long time, but it’s so shiny and juicy.

At night, everything becomes more powdery, and I need eyeliner. Not too thick, and I like it to follow the natural shape of my eye. I start it very thin and go thicker at the end, using either a MAC pencil eyeliner or the one that comes in the pot—not the liquid because it’s easier to make mistakes with that. I hate going out at night without eyeliner—it does not work with me. That’s all I need.

I style my hair the way you see it, very natural. Center part, no volume on the top. I have cowlicks and I hate them, so I always ask for my hair to be flattened when I’m getting it done. In terms of products, I love the anti-frizz Ouai sheets—they’re so good! My hair is really frizzy at the roots, and you just take the sheets, pat them on your hair, and you’re done. If I wash my hair myself, I apply an anti-frizz product like Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime. I have it both in cream and spray. I also love the treatment masks from Ouai for traveling, because they’re packaged already. Truthfully, I usually don’t wash my hair at home because it’s too frizzy for me to do it on my own. I go wherever, as long as it’s not me doing it, but I get it cut in Milan, at Aldo Coppola.

Le Labo is my favorite shower gel. Two, I have—Neroli 36, which is also my body lotion, and then Hinoki. Francis Kurkdijan and Alexandre Vauthier made this perfume for me, with my name engraved on the bottle. It’s sensual and sweet, and just magnetizing. Honestly, everyone asks for it as soon as I put it on. It’s magical. You can’t buy it—that’s what I also love about it. [Laughs] But you can buy Bal d’Afrique, which is my daily. I also have the hand cream. When I wear it on a plane, everyone asks me, ‘What is this?’ It’s so good.

I go out mostly during fashion week, but I like restaurants. There’s this Japanese restaurant called L’Abysse that just opened, and I’m obsessed with it. I like Hotel Bourbon to go out for a drink. I think Italians like to have more fun with what they wear. It’s a stereotype, but it’s true, you know? It’s just more fun, I would say—more risqué, and more risky than the French. My style is eclectic because I get bored. In my office, it’s either leather pants, or denim, or sweatpants. Always with a t-shirt—I love a good t-shirt. I like the mix between casual and high heels, or elegant looks with sneakers. Sneakers I don’t like to make but I like to wear, for sure. My nighttime style is definitely more glamorous. I always have a good patent pant and a boot to match. Otherwise I wear pretty little glamorous cocktail dresses—I’m lucky to have a lot of designer friends, like Attico and Vauthier. And on my toes I always have gel polish. This time I have light blue—it’s usually nude or red, but sometimes I just become obsessed with a color, you know?”

—as told to ITG

Amina Muaddi photographed by Tom Newton in Paris on February 26, 2019.