Boots of Span­ish leather

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Style -

“Every­body loved them so much that I started tak­ing or­ders and mak­ing more.” She sold 100 pairs to The Cross bou­tique in Not­ting Hill, and then started de­vel­op­ing styles. When she had six, she went to Paris, and lined them up like sol­diers on a ta­ble at the Tra­noï trade fair. “I thought, ‘God, what the hell am I do­ing here?’ But then peo­ple started buy­ing them. Buy­ing them like crazy!”

She took down or­ders on a scrap of pa­per and headed back to London. “I sat on the Eurostar think­ing, ‘My good­ness. This is a business.’” She now has two shops, one of which has just opened on London’s Duke Street, and while she won’t re­veal turnover de­tails, she proudly re­ports that re­tail sales dou­bled last year.

The range has ex­panded to in­clude those wildly popular Kilim slip­pers in myr­iad pat­terns and fab­rics, in­spired by a pic­ture she saw at a 2011 ex­hi­bi­tion at the V& A. “I’ve al­ways taken in­spi­ra­tion from men’s footwear, and I wanted to do a slip­per. I saw this fan­tas­tic pic­ture of Os­car Wilde in a don­key brown suit, with a grey silk lapel and frog­ging. And I made some slip­pers in that colour.”

Other hits in­clude her Cuban­heeled, Sev­en­ties-style vel­vet boots (Chung has them in three colours); crepe-soled snake­skin san­dals; and neon ponyskin jun­gle boots. This sea­son’s key shape is the suede wal­laby shoe, with a neon stripe of mi­cro­foam rub­ber on the sole. “I had the Ivy League in my mind when I de­signed those,” Chil­vers ex­plains. “I was think­ing of Americans in their needle­point cor­duroys. And I added the neon be­cause it makes you happy.”

That un­ex­pected jolt of colour is some­thing of a trade­mark, and el­e­vates Chil­vers’s de­signs from sen­si­ble to sassy. She sums up her aes­thetic thus: “I ask my­self if it’s a ‘goany­where, do-any­thing’ pair of shoes. That means you feel em­pow­ered, you can dart out the door, run for a bus, feel­ing com­fort­able and con­fi­dent ev­ery step of the way.”

Ev­ery­thing is still made in Spain. “My re­la­tion­ship with my mak­ers is re­ally key to me. You can’t just dream some­thing up in footwear and make it – you have to know how to make it prop­erly.” She pauses. “A cou­ple of years ago I got quite a lot of ad­vice to start pro­duc­ing fur­ther afield than Spain, and I’m re­ally glad I stuck to my guns. Be­cause the Span­ish are pas­sion­ate

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