The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Style -

make pur­pose­ful footwear: for travel, for ex­pe­ri­ence, for go­ing places and do­ing things,” be­gins the shoe de­signer Pene­lope Chil­vers when we meet. Yeah, right, I think, ap­ply­ing my usual cyn­i­cism and sub­sti­tut­ing “travel” with “a business class flight to New York” and “ex­pe­ri­ence” with “a fash­ion show”.

For when I think of Chil­vers, I see Alexa Chung in her palm-treeem­bla­zoned smoking slip­pers, look­ing pic­ture-per­fect while strid­ing through cus­toms at JFK. I re­call Clau­dia Schif­fer, Keira Knight­ley and Cate Blanchett, all of whom are fans of Chil­vers’s neonac­cented sa­fari boots. None of th­ese women, you will agree, is heav­ily as­so­ci­ated with out­door pur­suits.

For­give me. For it turns out that prac­ti­cal­ity – a moot point in fash­ion – is truly at the heart of Pene­lope Chil­vers, the woman and the brand. It all started with a rid­ing boot. And not just any rid­ing boot: a tra­di­tional Span­ish rid­ing boot, made in a spe­cial­ist Goodyear-welt­ed­sole fac­tory where all her rid­ing, walk­ing, and snow boots are still made. Like all good de­signs, it was born of gen­uine need.

“I didn’t make it with a mind to start­ing a business,” Chil­vers re­calls. “I wanted a pair of rid­ing boots for my­self. So I spent a day with the most amaz­ing Span­ish ar­ti­san, telling him how I wanted it to look.”

An artist by train­ing – she stud­ied paint­ing at London’s Byam Shaw School of Art – and with a ca­reer in in­te­rior, com­mer­cial prop­erty and prod­uct de­sign in Barcelona al­ready es­tab­lished, Chil­vers was very par­tic­u­lar. She wanted the an­kle elon­gated and the foot nar­row; the Span­ish sad­dle leather veg­etabledyed to a choco­late brown; a knee-high cut; and a tas­sel.

I’ve seen the fuschia, and it works (be­low, from top): sa­fari boot, £239, Pene­lope Chil­vers (pene­lope chil­vers. com); jacket, £48, Top­shop (top­shop. com); jun­gle boot, £199, Pene­lope Chil­vers, as be­fore

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