Ask the designer: Penelope Chilvers

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

Combining contemporary design with enduring style and craftsmanship is something Penelope Chilvers does effortlessly. Here, we talk to the designer herself about the latest AW15 collection 


Your collections always have a strong ‘outdoor’ focus – where did you get the inspiration for your AW15 collection?
Penelope Chilvers stands for footwear for experience and adventure. I like to think my customers buy a pair of our shoes or boots to go and do something, to ride a horse, go on safari, go to the mountains, or quite simply to walk in the park. My inspiration is about an escape from the urban planet around us. I’m a country girl at heart, living a London life. I think this shows in my designs.

Can you explain the process you take when choosing the fabrics and patterns for each collection?
I go on a hunt for ideas when I’m travelling, picking up fabrics and photographing anything that may be useful. I love to wander around Portobello market, where there are truly talented people, with a great eye, selling vintage pieces.


How do you choose your key shapes for each season?
I start with looking at our core, dependable styles; some of which we have been selling for years and continue to be best sellers;  then I add in whatever I’m feeling is needed to give a fresh new relevance to the season ahead. When I start designing a new season, with it, comes a new story. That story may encompass a far away place, where I end the design period by shooting my collection on the model.

Without a doubt it’s a shape that you are known for, but what is it about the safari boot that you love and keep reinventing each season? 
Our safari boot is a winner! Everyone loves them because they are an easy shape to wear with anything: skirts, jeans, shorts.  They are cut low on the ankle to make your calf look long and the neon elastics for which we are famous, brings a smile to peoples faces. They make people feel happy. Comfort goes without saying, but I can tell you why they are so comfortable, its because they are made on a traditional goodyear welted sole which gives long term use and comfort beyond any glued sole techniques.

Who is the woman that you think of when designing each collection?
The Penelope Chilvers woman is an independent, stylish and strong woman aspiring to lead a healthy lifestyle with a spirit for adventure.


Which is your favourite piece from this season?
My favourite piece this season is appearing in the November issue of Vogue in a Gaucho Garb story. The Fairweather boot (pictured above) is inspired by equestrian aesthetic but looks just as beautiful with this season’s wide cropped trousers and A-line skirts as with a poncho.

What exciting plans do you have for the next couple of months?
I am designing our next Autumn collection at the moment which means I travel back and forth to Spain where we have everything made.

To shop the AW15 collection, go to Penelope Chilvers


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