A guest post by Rena Breed from My Favourite Shoes.*
When I first saw photos of Caroline Groves’s shoes, I was very impressed. They are breathtaking, beautifully made and so rich in detail. If I were a shoe designer, these are exactly the kind of shoes I would love to make!
The shoes are custom made by hand in Caroline’s studio in the Cotswolds in the UK. She has built up her own exclusive clientele who can get their heart’s desire with her designs, and her skill has earned her fans among international jet-setters. Of course this exclusivity comes with a price … one that most of us can’t afford: the starting price of the bespoke footwear is 1,800 pounds sterling ($2700). Still, it’s nice to know that after the famous – and already overly expensive – luxury brands, you can still go one step higher.
This video shows the craftsmanship, imagination, passion, and attention to detail that goes into every pair of shoes. The only thing it doesn’t show is the hours of work that goes into creating the design:
Workshop in London
Caroline spends part of the week in her studio on Jermyn Street in Foster & Sons, one of the oldest custom shoemakers in London. It’s here that she meets with her private clients. At the first appointment, she measures their feet and discusses the style of the design as well as the materials to be used.
For the second appointment, Caroline will create a preliminary last and may, if necessary, make any changes. After that she will get to work on the shoes. A third and final appointment may be necessary before the finished shoes are delivered. This process means that each pair of shoes is truly unique.
Caroline’s shoes are fanciful, constructed and finished with the finest leathers, embroidery, and accessorized with details like silver buckles. Her designs reveal her love of vintage styles, which is not surprising since her favorite designer is Salvatore Ferragamo – particularly his designs from the 20s and early 30s.
Caroline gets inspiration from the beautiful patterns of different types of leather such as crocodile, and will travel to Italy or France to choose the best hides. She has also delved into the world of leather processing techniques and experimentation with leather.
Arts and Crafts Movement
Caroline’s family comes from Chipping Campden in the UK and her ancestors were avid followers of Charles Robert Ashbee, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Caroline’s grandfather was a long-time member of this movement and her grandmother was a silversmith.
Caroline started off her career working for a saddler in Gloucestershire where she learned leathercraft techniques. In order to support her two children, she decided to send her resume to a shoemaker and he ended up being her business partner for the next 15 years. He gradually moved toward orthopedic shoemaking, but Caroline had always been more interested in the artistic side of the trade and she decided to concentrate on making bespoke shoes.
If you’re like me, I‘m sure you’re longing for these shoes. If I ever decide to become a shoe designer, I definitely want to intern with Caroline.
To see more of Caroline Groves’s designs, check out her website.
*This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts by Rena Breed from the Dutch site My Favourite Shoes. Her blog is like a sister site to Lust for Shoes and has amazing articles about shoe designers and the footwear industry in Europe. Most of the articles on her site are in Dutch, so I have translated this one into English. My Dutch is not great, but I did my best to do justice to her fabulous article. Even if you don’t speak Dutch, I’d urge you to check out her website; it’s worth a look for the photos alone.