City Press review: Maddman: The Steve Madden Story
Johannesburg - Maddman: The Steve Madden Story tells the story of iconic shoe designer Steve Madden, and is a thrilling 77 minutes of real-life triumph.
The documentary peers into this man’s life and unpacks the dazzling highs and shocking lows that have shaped his career as one of the most successful shoe designers in history.
People who are not into fashion might know Madden from his entanglements with serial Wall Street fraudster Jordan Belfort – their relationship was colourfully depicted in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, which is ultimately what inspired Madden to tell his own side of things.
Besides starting a fashion empire with just R13 000 and learning the shoe game at a young age, the fiery Madden later succumbed to heavy drug use, and the film captures his tumultuous idiosyncrasies.
The highlight of the documentary comes when the days of Stratton Oakmont (Belfort’s illegal firm) are highlighted. Stratton put Steve Madden, which at the time had only one store, up for public offering, selling the stock on the strength of his Mary Lou shoes.
What I didn’t know was that, because the public offering brought Stratton Oakmont’s illegal dealings to the attention of the FBI, Madden ended up being indicted.
He had to leave his flourishing business behind and go to prison. He took to it quite well and even gave some of his cell mates and prison buddies jobs in his empire when he was released in 2005. What a G!
When he returned to his business after his 31-month stint in jail, the shoe gangster was a bit out of touch with the design game. However, he managed to adapt and maintain the level of excellence his brand is celebrated for. Steve is the man.
This film was shot using a basic approach to doccie making. There are insightful interviews with friends and family, and also some exclusive intimate moments that show a little of the process a Steve Madden design goes through before you rock it.
The producers didn’t try too hard and the film matched the intense yet laid-back nature of Madden – informative bursts of facts and some light moments that show us the real person. At the same time, he appears to be absolutely comfortable with sharing his story.
Maddman: The Steve Madden Story on available on Netflix.
(Photo: Supplied/City Press)