Jane, when you launched 'French Sole' in 1989 what was your vision at the time?
I had always loved ballet flats but there was hardly anywhere to buy them in the UK (and no-one who specialised in ballet flats) so I originally started selling my shoes at charity sales and then quickly developed into a mail order business from my Chelsea home to meet the demand! I saw the gap in the market and responded to the lack of a specialist in London, opened my first boutique in 1991 and have never looked back.
You’ve built an amazing brand, sell to hundreds of stores worldwide and many of the most admired celebrities are loyal fans, in a nutshell, what was the best surprise and what has been the worst, in the brand’s development journey?
I have had the special privilege to produce shoes for some of the worlds’ most admired icons; I was particularly honoured to make shoes for the wonderful late Diana, Princess of Wales as she was the most incredible woman.
I get most annoyed when I see other brands copying my designs because it requires so much work to create new styles and concepts. However, I have been fortunate enough to have a great team around me throughout the French Sole journey (many of whom are also my family members) so even when we have come up against difficulties, we have been able to overcome and move on from them relatively unscathed.
What inspired you when you were designing your latest collections?
I have finished work on my SS14 collection which is under-wraps at the moment; for my AW13 collection I drew my inspiration from the work I do with the English National Ballet and the many evenings I have spent watching their wonderful performances. It is a very opulent, dramatic collection with the most sumptuous fabrics – expect lots of glitters, velvets, over-sized bows and general fabulousness!
I also have two very exciting collaborations in the pipeline so look out for those later this year.
You have business, shops and suppliers, and some of your family and homes in different countries. How do you pack when you travel? What are your five must have's to pack?
I am fortunate enough to have homes in my two most-visited destinations (Los Angeles and Portugal) so I keep a seasonal wardrobe in both homes; however, I always travel with a few staples (obviously I travel wearing my latest French Sole design!) – J Brand 811 jeans, a Chanel boucle jacket, my Amouage fragrance, Chanel make-up and some Winser London cashmere!
Do you have a style icon that influences how you dress?
I admire Inès de la Fressange for her simple, elegant and always immaculate style.
You are famous for your commitment to the charity 'Starlight', how did you initially become involved and what should we all do if we want to support the work?
The Starlight Children’s Foundation is a charity very close to my heart; they do the most amazing work to help extremely unwell children and their families. I started working with them a few years ago and have since tied in my work with them with my support of the English National Ballet – every Christmas we take a group of Starlight children to see the ENB performance of the Nutcracker – a truly magical day for us all.
Anything anyone can do to support Starlight is so worthwhile and appreciated – whether it be doing a sponsored sporting event or a bake sale in their aid or sponsoring a Starlight wish – it all helps towards this most amazing cause.
Shop The Look
- V Neck Silk Top £130