British craftsmanship: Shoemaker Freya Rose

With a passion for sculpture, textiles and fine jewels, Freya Rose has married her love of fine jewellery with her skill for making to create unique bridal and occasion shoes

Freya Rose has craftsmanship in her blood. The daughter of renowned jeweller Barbara Tipple,  she grew up above a working design studio, so knew from an early age she wanted work in the creative field.

At art school, she developed both her interests in sculpture and in textiles and, when she joined London College of Fashion (alma mater to so many of Britain’s design talents), she became hooked on the 3D sphere of product design and development. Shoes, in particular, seemed to meet her passion for sculpture and form – but there was something else. Freya says: “I loved everything about how they actually work – the symmetry and precision involved in making shoes”.

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Initially, Freya Rose was not focused simply on bridal – just on the fabulous surface design possibilities of shoes if you added jewels and fine trims

Freya graduated with a First in shoe and accessory design and moved on to work with both notable high-end designers and high-street names. Then her natural affinity (and knowledge of) the world of jewellery came back into play, and that’s how the Freya Rose brand came into being in 2010. Originally, Freya wasn’t thinking in terms of bridal, just about the exciting surface design possibilities if you embellished shoes. But, of course, wedding shoes are special – it was a case of the shoe fitting a very glamour-driven market.

The embellished heels she creates are extraordinarily beautiful – artworks in their own right – and are now stocked in boutiques across the globe, from the USA and Middle East to Japan and Australia. Alongside shoes, there are other fine occasion pieces – jewellery, belts, hair clips and bags. While the list of overseas clients continues to grow, this is a very London and craft-based business, also working with fine specialist suppliers that Freya has developed strong working relationships with over years.

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Freya Rose’s signature mother-of-pearl embellished heels are extraordinarily complex to create, involving teams of craftspeople from Bali, Spain and London. And despite their delicate appearance, the embellished heels are tough – real heirloom pieces

The processes involved in creating a pair of Freya Rose’s signature shoes with mother-of-pearl heels are painstaking. She works with a very small team of craftspeople in Ubud, Bali – a traditional centre of shell work. “It’s an extraordinarily spiritual place and we have built up a great relationship with our small team there – we’re very concerned that this must be a sustainable and ethical relationship that supports their traditional craft industry,” says Freya.

From there, applying the beautiful mother-of-pearl embellishment to heels is a whole art in itself. “This happens in Spain and we again work with a family who have the traditional skills – it’s a very special process and incredibly skilled. They can only make so many shoes a year and each pair may take one or two days to complete”.

One of the best things about these beautiful iridescent shoes – beyond the care involved in their creation – is the traditional significance of the shell itself. Freya says: “Mother of pearl is said to symbolise eternity and prosperity – it seems so appropriate for weddings”. Despite their delicate those heels are robust – real heirloom pieces.

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Freya Rose also offers satins, lace and sparkly numbers such as the Chrysler shoe with removable Swarovski crystal shoe embellishment

There are many other shoes in the mix, including beautifully constructed heels in soft gold and silver leathers. “There’s huge demand among brides for really good quality plain shoes. Of course, these can be embellished or accessorised with our range of removable shoe clips”.

Her fabulous lace shoes (another signature line) are not only decorative, but light and breathable thanks to the construction technique of uppers; very fine lace organza embellishment is applied on a mesh base. Brides not only find them comfortable, but a great choice for destination or high-summer weddings. There are also decadent sparkly numbers, while plain silk satin shoes can be customised with shoe clips and take dye beautifully – good to know if you have a specific colour theme or want to dye them after the wedding day.

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Couture shoes are also in the mix – this elegant Song of the Stars design is made to order in silk satin and features a hand made white gold and Tahitan pearl shoe clip that can be removed

While RTW is always popular, opting for couture or bespoke is the way to create something truly original for wedding or special occasion. You book an appointment at the London showroom (these last an hour) and take along swatches, photos and ideas – opening up a world of possibilities for heel height and material.

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At Freya Rose’s Islington base, hand embellishments are applied by a team of skilled craftspeople to customise shoes for weddings and occasions

Freya Rose has an extensive library of colours and fabrics, as well as a vast choice of hand-embroidery and embellishment options – crystal, Chantilly lace, pearls – all applied by the London team. You can even commission a fresh idea from scratch, a collaborative process in which you work direct with Freya Rose to create your dream. Typically, couture shoes take from six weeks; if it’s a totally bespoke shoe – patterned and created from scratch – this can take up to 24 weeks and with one or two fittings.

Whether it’s a classic pump or one-off bejewelled stiletto you are looking for, Freya Rose has a style in its armoury of glam heels. And the craftsmanship involved means you get to wear a pair of shoes that is as unique and creative as your wedding day.

Freya Rose, The Business Design Centre, London N1. For shoe appointments, call 020 7226 4797;

See our pick of S/S 2016 bridal shoes