Loved by brides, Emmy London’s 2012 golden and chain-bedecked Angie shoe is one of its most iconic styles. It dates back to the foundation of the company and is also very similar to the heels that Emmy Scarterfield wore on her own wedding day
Today shoes are integral to wedding-day dressing. Indeed, many brides start with the feet and then think about the dress to match. But there was a time when they were an afterthought – shiny, white and best hidden under the dress. Emmy London is certainly among the handful of designers who changed all that.
The story begins with a search for a shoe for a friend’s wedding. Emmy Scarterfield had trained at Cordwainers College and then worked with some of Italy’s finest luxury brands, so when she accompanied her friend shopping for wedding shoes she was more than just moral support; she was an expert eye. What she found that day was, she says, a gap in the market. Her friend ended up buying a shoe that wasn’t from a bridal range and the shopping trip set Emmy Scarterfield on course for her future career. “The shoes were either really frumpy or a bit stripper. And that set me thinking.”
Then, in January 2004, came the real light-bulb moment. Emmy had been freelancing as a designer for everything from couture to high street brands. She was working on a special custom shoe for a London Fashion Week runway show and travelled to Italy in order to take it back with her in time for the show. But the factory hadn’t even started it, which meant two long and tedious days waiting for the design to be manufactured. “Two things happened,” says Emmy. “One was that I decided this was not what I wanted to be doing. The second was that I sat down and wrote a business plan.”
“Really a version of this shoe has been in our collection right from the start. It is one of our classic Emmy London styles”
On the plane home, now with runway shoes safely in her grasp, Emmy continued to refine the ideas. She had worked out how the shoes would be constructed, the criteria for a lovely bridal shoe, the lasts and the heel styles that would work. She also knew that the requirements for a bridal shoe were something a little different – special. She decided that if the plan still seemed a good idea by the time she landed, she would set it in motion. “By the time I got to London Fashion Week clutching the shoes from Italy, I was on a different page.”
Turning down freelance work was hard initially, but Emmy had early supporters including José Neves (later to found Farfetch), who came from a shoe family in northern Portugal, loved the idea and became an early business partner. Originally Emmy London shoes were sold via a website, but things took off quickly. The move to the first studio in Cross Street, Islington happened after Emmy spotted some furniture. “I bought a chaise longue that I decided would be perfect for our studio, and then I was committed to getting our first premises!”
Along the way (in 2005) Emmy married Dickie in an elegant shoe very like the golden Angie. “Really a version of this shoe has been in our collection right from the start. It is one of our classic Emmy London styles.” While earlier incarnations had been popular, the 2012 Angie was a scene stealer.
“Angie remains one of the most repinned Emmy London shoes on Pinterest, and brides still ring up to order it today”
Made of gold leather, it has an almond toe, four-inch heel and a lovely T-bar formed of a chain, with hand beading and crystals. It was inspired by a chandelier and has the Deco elements that mark out so many of Emmy London’s classic styles. It immediately captured brides’ imaginations and became one of their most popular styles that season. Eight years on, it remains one of the most repinned Emmy London shoes on Pinterest, and brides still ring up to ask for it today, which is why it has been kept on the books as a to-order design.
This season chains and fringes have been all over the runways, making the Angie feel remarkably current, but Emmy believes good wedding shoes are beyond fashion’s vagaries. “You don’t want to look at a picture of your wedding shoes 30 years down the line and say to yourself ‘what was I thinking?’ Good wedding shoes have to stand the test of time.”
More about Emmy London
Emmy London’s store is at 74 Fulham Road, SW3. To find out more about its bridal shoes, bags and accessories, as well as bespoke and to-order services for wedding and occasion pieces, visit emmylondon.com