Amélie Pichard‘s shoes are like little works of art. Not in a detailed, Manolo Blahnik kind of way, nor in a technically brilliant Tabitha Simmons way, but in the way they just seem so – well – unlikely. It’s like the moment when you look at what someone’s wearing, then look down, and lo and behold the shoe is a complete surprise.
Campaign image courtesy of Amélie Pichard
The opposite of a safe, practical, go-with-everything shoe, Amélie Pichard‘s shoes are cinematic, almost circus-like. They have character. They are like Patricia Arquette in True Romance or Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Badass, gorgeous and bonkers.
Fur brogue. Image courtesy of Amélie Pichard
You can find her shoes at Dover Street Market, Colette and 10CorsoComo (plus others). I stumbled upon this pair of lilac mesh and navy blue patent shoes with ‘just the right height’ heels at Garrett Leight optical in Los Angeles.
Mesh & patent shoe from SS14 collection. Image copyright Penelope Meredith
It’s the shoe that was featured in the spring-summer 2014 campaign, which I loved. Not since Guy Bourdin shot the legendary ad campaigns for Charles Jourdan have I seen a shoe brand publish campaigns with so much personality – as much about the image and the story as the shoe.
SS14 Campaign. Image courtesy of Amélie Pichard
So with all that in mind, I’ll sign off with the words of Alabama Whitman ringing in my head – “you’re so cool…you’re so cool…you’re so cool…”
21 rue de Lappe
Skull Harness. Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya
I have a spooky feeling that Fleet Ilya‘s Skull Harness is not just for Halloween. Yes, this gothic contraption is designed to be worn (those holes are for boobs, I’m guessing) which isn’t so surprising when you discover that Fleet Ilya is the home of ‘luxury bondage’. But even if the restraint look is a bit much for you, read on.
Fleet Ilya Cuff Clutch. Image courtesy of wheretoget.it
As well as having carved a niche for themselves in harnesses, collars and cuffs, Fleet Ilya‘s range of beautifully crafted leather accessories extends to elegant belts and edgy clutch bags (my favourite being the Cuff Clutch).
What I love about this brand is its exclusivity (thus far). The word exclusivity usually means – in fashion terms – stratospherically expensive, but with clutches and belts from around £400 they are well-priced for such craftsmanship and less recognisable than brands like Alaïa and Alexander McQueen.
This is the magic that happens when a St Martins graphic design graduate and a traditional saddle-maker come together. And I am a huge fan.
Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya
Image courtesy of Faliero Sarti
I hope that Monica Sarti wouldn’t be upset with me for the title of this post. But for me, the intrinsic beauty of a Faliero Sarti scarf lies not only in its sumptuous yarn and beautiful design but in the fact that it instantly looks – and feels – like something you’ve had forever.
Images courtesy of Faliero Sarti
They’re a totally indulgent purchase. I remember my first – a rich, petrol blue silk/cashmere mix with raw edges that I bought in Milan some years ago. It cost more than I could afford, looks like a rag but is gorgeous and comes everywhere with me. The second has only been with me for a few hours but already I am attached.
Photograph by Catherine Naylor-Leyland
These pieces don’t scream fashion and they don’t scream money. There are no logos and no recognisable prints (unless you count the current Mickey Mouse collaboration with Disney).
Scarves are great – you can wear them with nothing else (ask the girls at Liberty to show you how) or throw them on last to bring life to your look and warmth to your neck. What’s not to love?
I first found out about Solange Azagury-Partridge 10 years ago, when my friend Whitney Bromberg-Hawkings suggested I go to her for my engagement ring. I had been searching in vain for something sparkly and original and Whitney’s pairing was right (unsurprisingly – the lady has impeccable taste). I went to the exquisite little jewel box of a shop in Westbourne Grove and have since been the proud owner of a Solange Azagury-Partridge Muz ring in red gold with diamonds, which is about as far from a traditional solitaire as you can get. I adore it.
Image courtesy of Solange Azagury-Partridge
Since then, one of us has gone up in the world. Solange has a new home at 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair – an imposing, psychedelic boutique with Celine, Roland Mouret, Goyard and the Connaught Hotel for neighbours. The place has the same magical feel as her first boutique but on a much bigger scale – and still manages to retain its sense of intimacy. How does she do it?
Lapis Lazuli colourblock ring in 18ct gold and El Dorado gypsy bangle in 18ct gold
Of course, it helps that she has innate style and an eye for a gem. But for me, the beauty of Solange’s designs comes down to authenticity. She designs from the heart. It is pure expression, without recourse to trends or consumer pressure. It’s a courageous stance to take and this courage permeates her pieces, which have grace as well as grit.
Gold & diamond fringe ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge
So do her fans. I bumped into Sharleen Spiteri and Bay Garnett at the launch of her new Chromance collection earlier today. Such is the essence of her customer – modern, original, ballsy.
Personally, I’m dreaming of a Solange Christmas.