With the motto, ‘go anywhere, do anything’, Penelope Chilvers designs the kind of shoes that are both practical and playful in equal measure. Take the new Amelia Friesian Boot for example, and you’ll find geranium pink pony cowhide combined with the signature Safari style that’s just made for stomping. Having previously lived in Barcelona, the Londoner is heavily influenced by traditional Spanish techniques and leather boots, sandals, espadrilles are synonymous with the label. Spending her time between a studio, two shops (Ledbury Road and Duke Street) and her Notting Hill home, the designer shares her favourite London haunts:
London – a place that seems to me to be made up of huge villages. My village is anywhere that is a stone’s throw from Portobello market – I like it because it attracts artistic people and being on a hill you can see surprisingly long views for a city.
How do you structure your working days?
I work best between 6.30am and 9am, when it’s quiet – it’s a time for problem solving and creativity. During the day I’m not on my email much as I’m either chatting to my team, or at the drawing table in the studio. I love travelling a lot to see the artisans that make my footwear in Spain, where I research and get inspired, this is where most new collections are born.
You seem to spread a sense of fun in your shoes. Where do you find your inspiration?
I love a” brown boot” more than anything, and it’s often the way I start designing a new style: aiming to make a classic, in noble materials, but I can’t hold myself back from transforming them a year later, and using colour too. My inspiration comes from travel and adventures.
Which pair of shoes in your wardrobe do you wear the most often?
I have recently started wearing the Salva boot in tan – they are one of our long lasting classic styles and one of our best sellers. I’ve always loved how they look on other people. They are a little bit cowboy, a bit gaucho girl, and very laid back. I’m wearing them every day at the moment with dresses, skirts and jeans.
How does your motto ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ translate into your designs?
A question I ask myself all the time when designing is ‘Does it make you feel free?’ My footwear is about empowering and giving confidence to the women who wear them. This motto also sums up our carefree attitude – we make footwear to keep by the door, to depend upon and not to be kept in a wardrobe for rare occasions. People wear them all season long. They are made to last.
Can you share your favourite London…
- Bakery or cafe: Andina, Westbourne Grove, created by Martin Morales of Ceviche. I recommend the baked Aubergine dish and Peruvian meatballs.
- Cocktail bar or pub: The Beaumont, close to our shop for an after work cocktail
- Place to de-stress: White City House pool
Where are you off to this summer and what of your collection will you be taking with you?
I spend as much time in Spain as I can, I love to get out of the city and visit my family around the country too. I’ll take the tan Alma sandal, a rucksack for the beach and I enjoy wearing black in the summer (never in winter) so I’ll wear all the black satin styles such as the Nonno or Hannah espadrilles. I have mixed jute soles with satin uppers to create graphic lines with a natural element, this make them versatile and perfect for a party on the beach, a wedding on a lawn or a walk to work through the city.