I was spending the summer at my villa in Portugal with my children and their friends that August. The day started as usual, pretty late as we had all been out the previous night. Brunch was over by mid-day and as began our day of wandering down to the beach or settling down by the pool. That was until someone turned the television on and the holiday turned into sorrow, shock and sadness.
Following the launch of my new Heels Collection I am looking forward to celebrating yet another amazing milestone - French Sole is nearing it's thirtieth year!
Yes, it's official - I have designed my first ever collection of mid-height (2.5"), super cool, traditional court shoes for genuine 24/7 wearability.
Gentleman's Smoking Slippers or Opera Slippers as they are sometimes called, were a unique fashion phenomena during the Victorian era and exclusive to the upper class and aristocratic Englishman who would have these "manly" versions of a house slipper made to order especially to match their silk, embroidered – and often quilted - smoking jackets, which would be worn on evenings that were spent at home, perhaps playing cards with friends while they enjoyed the pleasure of smoking cigars.
I love long boots and almost as soon as the first signs of Autumn approach, I am always the first person in the office to start wearing boots. Hardly have I put away my summer sandals, than out come all my gorgeous long warm, comfortable boots.
I first met Barbara Hulanicki fifty years ago.
The debate surrounding heels versus flats in the workplace seems to have stirred much discussion and controversy around appropriate dress codes in the office recently. More than 100,000 people including a number of MPs have signed a petition to ban companies from making high heels a condition of female dress codes. I am very much in agreement that formal flats should be considered a highly suitable alternative and no woman should be forced to wear heels. I am such a believer in this that I have continued to produce and design both comfortable and stylish flats for my brand French Sole.
Finally we have sunshine and spring is very definitely in the air.
The daffodils in my garden did not suffer at all from their early blooming and now the bluebell wood is in full colour and looks amazing. My little dachshund Daphne is addicted to the scent in my Bluebell garden and will madly run around for hours through the flowers.
Collaborations are always inspiring and to work alongside anyone with strong ideas is always a challenge for me as I am "never wrong"! However, when "great minds" think alike - the end result is often spectacular, which is exactly how Mrs. Alice for French Sole came about.
I first met Rosie Fortescue a couple of years ago and we started talking about our dogs! Rosie was always my favourite "Made in Chelsea" girl - we decided that we both wanted to help Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and since Rosie and I each have miniature dachshunds - mine is Daphne and hers is Noodle - we designed a shoe together embroidered with our little "daxies”! So the Little Dax shoe was born. A gorgeous black suede Hefner style slipper with the Little Dax embroidered across the front of both shoes.
This Summer has been truly wonderful and now Autumn is approaching fast and it’s time to think about winter boots and party shoes.
Liberty is such an iconic store with a brand heritage famous in my family for the past four generations as my mother, myself, my daughter and my granddaughters have all worn pretty little dresses made from their delicately flowered lawn fabrics.
I have been involved with London Fashion Week for over twenty years, since Betty Jackson asked me to design and supply all the shoes for one of her amazing shows.
I have been possibly Roger Saul’s most devoted fan since I bought the most beautiful belt back in the early seventies - in fact that belt was so admired that I wore it for years and years until it finally fell apart - but I loved it and can still feel the leather and see the buckle and feel the feeling of slipping it through the loops of my Levi jeans - mmmmmmm!!
Since I first started my long career in shoe making over twenty five years ago - it has never ceased to amaze me at the complete lack of attention many women pay to the care of their shoes - sometimes shoes that have cost very large sums of money.
About a year ago I was approached by the Los Angeles based lifestyle company tokidoki to form a collaborative partnership to design and manufacture a range of shoes to be sold under our American label London Sole.
I was honoured and very excited by this project as I have known about this amazing brand for several years and watched in awe at their incredible global success with fashion collaborations with such luminaries as Karl Lagerfeld, Barbie and Hello Kitty who sell out completely of their tokidoki themed designs. NetaPorter sold out of the tokidoki scarves by Karl Lagerfeld within two days, so I knew this was going to be a serious design challenge for me.
It’s hard to believe that this year celebrates my twenty fifth year at French Sole and so we decided to make a big splash by investing in a big budget photo shoot here in wonderful sunny California where I have a home.
Just over two years ago, French Sole found themselves with a huge warehouse full of over-ordered stock, end of lines, discontinued styles, factory samples and hundreds of press sample shoes!! What on earth were we to do with it all?
August is here at last and the weather is completely gorgeous.
This month sees the opening of my two latest French Sole stores located in Manilla and Beijing…
To all my American family and friends, to my American nephew Joe, to my (very much younger) American brother Jim, currently on tour with Maroon Five, to my American daughter-in-law, the acclaimed author Jennifer L Scott and her lovely family, including my adored American granddaughters, my (almost) American son Ben who owns and runs our sister brand throughout the USA, London Sole and his overweight American chihuahua dog “Gatsby” and to my many American friends everywhere, both here in London and in the United States and of course last but by no means least - my dearest, wonderful and loyal staff at London Sole including Maggie, Jackie and Jae and my truly best American girlfriend - Eileen - the greatest realtor on the planet!
Back now in London from my winter sojourn in sunny California (two months of bliss with my adorable granddaughters) I am as usual wondering what to wear?
As the country gears up for the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic games, Jess Contomichalos chats to Jane Winkworth, founder and designer behind the quintessentially British, fashion brand, French Sole to find out her thoughts and memories of the Best of British fashion, art and culture.
Valentines Day is a special celebration, I’ve decided to tell you a funny Valentine story…one that might sound familiar! I have also invited Emma Forbes to share her Valentine’s ideas with us too!
Every month Jane will be inviting a Guest Blogger to write for her website! This month we hear from Jane’s lifelong friend Antonia Scott, who recalls growing up in the 50’s with Jane, embracing the fabulously explosive 60’s and how they found fashion and ultimately a love of shoes!
I wish I could say “Less is More” where my clothes are concerned. I wish I could exist on a small, smart, designer Capsule Wardrobe - just a few basic staples etc - Well I can’t! For me, more is more - and more and more! I am in the very enviable situation of having a huge house which is occupied these days by just myself, my husband, several dogs and the occasional visiting grandchild.
I am a huge fan of French style – I love to wear my jeans rolled up with some black ballet pumps and striped t-shirts!
Looking forward to Christmas? I absolutely love this time of year - here are a few of my favourite gift ideas and other ideas to make it a proper Winter Wonderland!
Last week saw the press launch of my new collection for French Sole…
(Blonde) hair today - gone tomorrow! Being part of the fashion world can be quite a bit responsibility and a strain I have to keep on top of fashion and trends…or create my own! Well, I am now going to share with you my new look. I have discovered that feeling comfortable within is the best way forward! Too many women are under terrible strain to look beautiful and wrinkle free - I say the best way is to be natural and relieve yourself of all that awful high maintenance pressure - beauty comes from within (and a few carefully chosen beauty products!)