Bionda Castana is a small but thriving British designer shoe brand with one store and about 70 stockists worldwide. LK Bennett is a major upper-middle chain with over 120 outlets on four continents. Both are known, at their own levels, for feminine, flattering, well-crafted shoes. Put the two together and what do you get? A range that is more than the sum of its parts – a little more accessible than Bionda Castana’s usual fare, a little more designer than LK Bennett’s core range. A limited-edition collaboration between two experts in the same field might seem a recipe for arguments, but both see it only as an opportunity.
Natalia Barbieri and Jennifer Portman of Bionda Castana met LK Bennett’s CEO Robert Bensoussan through the mentoring programme their company received as a Walpole Brand of Tomorrow. Bensoussan made the approach. “It seemed a natural progression after meeting at industry events,” he says. “It made sense merging the aesthetic of both as British shoe brands. I knew their work and trusted their capabilities. Collaborations work if you trust your partner in it, and as fellow shoe designers we speak the same language.”
The resulting collection has a hint of the vintage style that both brands draw upon, with modern details – such as a 1950s-inspired block heel, and the bold checkerboard print that adorns an elegant, scallop-trim style (first picture). Some shoes feature Bionda Castana’s signature fine lacing. “The designs are different from either brand, but reflect the DNA of both,” says Bensoussan. Six elegant spring styles are worked in colours from blush, light blue (second picture) and pale pink to red, raspberry (third picture), navy and black to create 20 variants at prices from £275 to £350. Arriving on Wednesday February 10, they are spread across 14 LK Bennett stores and online. Snap up this designer duo while you can.