From Sketch to Reality - An Interview with Emmy London
Finding your dream wedding shoes has always been a challenge and we know first hand that the offering isn’t always as we hoped whether it’s online or in-store - fine art wedding shoes are difficult to find. Until now.
Recently we were lucky enough to snag an interview with London designer Emmy Scarterfield from Emmy London and saw first hand the process in which her and her team take in creating the perfect bridal shoe. Wherever you’re based in the world, they can custom make a bespoke bridal shoe just for you and even have it dyed afterwards should you want to wear it again for another occasion! Let’s face it, we were sold on the idea before we met Emmy, but after our interview, we left London with a new perspective on what she personally puts into the design, experience and care. Here’s what we learnt about Emmy…
Q - Tell us about Emmy London and where it all started.
A - I started my career at Marks and Spencer which I fondly refer to now as being similar tofinishing school, I was junior designer in the accessories department and learnt so much about the running of a huge business and the importance of creating with a commercial eye. My passion for craftsmanship and being hands on with the factories led me to the motherland of luxury fashion, Milan where I landed a job designing for Giorgio Armani. It was such a wonderfully creative environment - I literally sketched all day everyday and had the freedom to explore a shoe concept based on an adjustable chair! From there I moved to Bottega Veneta to be part of a dream team led by Giles Deacon and Stuart Vivers learning craftmanship, attention to detail and brand values. I was involved in every aspect of the collection apart from clothing so it was wonderful to gain experience there with such a beautiful, timeless and impeccably made product (as well as learning Italian!). I spent half my time in the design studio and half in the factory so I was very instrumental in every stage from sketch to production. After 5 years in Milan, I moved home to England and designed for Mulberry, Reiss and other british brands helping them develop their shoe and accessories offerings. However, being a true creative, I missed having my own aesthetic and it was at this point I decided to bite the bullet and start my own brand. Bridal shoes was the perfect niche for me to showcase my experience in luxury fashion, understanding and appreciation of craftsmanship and to express my own personal style. The Emmy London brand was launched 14 years ago as a purely bespoke bridal shoe offering, it has since evolved and expanded to offer RTW shoes, bags, belts and accessories spanning bridal, occasion and evening, but bespoke is still very much the crème de la crème and very much our heritage.
Q - What makes Emmy London stand out from the crowd in the wedding industry?
A – We are all about the love of shoes and cater for women who share that love, appreciate the workmanship, the dedication to comfort and the attention to detail. We feel that shoes and the shopping for shoes experience is just as important as the outfit, we create shoes and accessories to be shown off, to be treasured forever and to be worn lovingly way beyond the big day. Our bespoke service is the perfect opportunity for a woman to create her dream shoes.
Q - Who is the Emmy bride?
A - There is a real mix of brides who visit Emmy London, the whole spectrum of styling looks from relaxed boho, to vintage and art deco right through to more classic silhouettes. The great thing is that our collection is so varied in terms of shape, height, colour and detail we can create the finishing touches to so many different bridal looks without losing our aesthetic of timeless feminine style.
Q - Who’s your dream client?
A - I would absolutely love to create bespoke shoes and accessories for Emily Blunt. She’s a great pioneer for the quintessential English look on a global scale. That appeal has great parallels and synergies with our brand - we sell internationally without losing our core values or identity.
Q - Where do you draw your inspiration from when designing a new range?
A - Recently I designed collection called ‘Meadow Dreaming’ inspired by the whimsical nature of English country meadows and the long delicate grasses. Nature and architecture are huge pulls for me in terms of inspiration. A previously collection I named ‘Cancello’ which means ‘gate’ in Italian. I was inspired after a mini break with my husband and twins to the Italian lakes, I was fascinated by all the geometric patterns within the gates and juxtaposition of the organic foliage growing through them. The Victoria shoe is still in the collection today and is a wonderful example of how this starting point translated into one of our best selling styles.
Q - From sketches to reality - how do you ensure the vision is carried out through to the end result?
A - It can take 4-5 months from sketching to the creation of a shoe and a large part of that is trialling certain aspects of the shoe - the shape of the mould, called the last is key and fundamental as it defines the toe shape, heel height and silhouette, the embellishment starts life as a colour coded flat drawing which then gets hand beaded and modified to fit a 3d shape, colours and colour combinations can create the real magic in a design.I always have a clear vision of what the shoe should look like, it’s easy to make a shoe look good on paper but it’s quite another to translate all of the practical limitations and create a truly beautiful shoe that ticks every box in terms of aesthetic, feel and comfort.I visit our workshop in person and am very involved in the process and pushing the ideas through. We are passionately dedicated to pioneering the comfort aspect of our shoes, I believe real beauty lies in a woman that feels balanced and secure in her shoes. The shopping experience here at Emmy London involves just as much attention to detail and focus, we ask our brides to bring in a picture of their dress and a swatch if possible so we can see colours together. We talk about the venue, the style of wedding and all the details to make sure we get the tone of voice right for the style. We love getting to know brides in this way. We then look at the shape of the shoe including heel height and once that’s established we move onto the more creative side - fabrics, embellishments, colours. We also have fabric lengths here for brides to hold against them to see what their shoes will look like with the dress tone and length. Lots of our brides want shoes they can wear again, our ivory suede and satin can be dyed, so it’s lovely that they can repurpose their wedding day shoes for special events, anniversaries, birthdays holidays and life beyond…..
Q - How do you balance work/family?
A - I’ve learnt so much about business and myself since Emmy London started but a lot of my business decisions and growth has been based on gut instincts. If I haven’t trusted in my feelings in something it usually hasn’t worked out, so my confidence has grown in terms of making decisions for my business, in turn for my family and how the two combine. When you become a mum, you become way more focused and time efficient. I don’t procrastinate at all. I am confident in myself and what I do, so I find myself becoming more effective in business and driven since having children. My husband and I run the business together (Dickie joined the business 4 years ago) and it really works for us, although I can appreciate it’s not suited for everyone! We have different skill sets that complement one another and he’s equally really passionate about the business. Our job roles are also clearly defined which helps us work alongside each other well which allows me to focus on what I’m good at and vice versa. When the children were young, it was far more difficult - I got less sleep, the business was a more hand to mouth approach in terms of strategy, I was unable to see further than a few weeks at a time. Now that the girls are much older, we’re able to spend time away from work even with our phones and laptops off!Having twins has enabled me to learn to art of delegation and that happens in my business more too. We are great talkers, I believe our open communication has always been our strength as a couple; talking through daily life and the challenges we have really helps. We are great believers in looking at the done list rather than just the to do list, life is so busy it’s easy to worry about all the things you haven’t finished or even started but looking at where we’ve come together gives us perspective and makes us really proud.
Q - Favourite clothing designer?
A - If I think about my personal taste and clothing designers, I love Chloe, Celine and Lanvin. Sleek lines, timeless pieces and neutrals. My wardrobe is literally 50% blush!
A huge thanks to Emmy and the team for showing us around their flagship London boutique and for taking the time to let us get to know the designer behind the stunning shoes. If you’d like to know more about Emmy London’s bespoke bridal shoe offering, head to their website here for more information.
Photography: Claire Graham