French Sole and Barbara Hulanicki’s edgy new footwear

The Biba designer brings her fashion flair to pumps, skate shoes and boots

Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole suede and leather Gabi Boxing boot, £195
Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole suede and leather Gabi Boxing boot, £195

Jane Winkworth of French Sole – whose classic ballet pumps have been a success story for 27 years – has made an inspired choice by turning to Barbara Hulanicki, founder of the legendary Biba boutique, to collaborate on a new range of comfortable and cool footwear, which hits French Sole stores on Wednesday December 21.

Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole velvet Penelope slipper, £185
Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole velvet Penelope slipper, £185
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Neither of these two highly individual women has much time for high heels – so the idea was to create everyday shoes that look great, are easy to walk (or run) in and, crucially, have a contemporary edge. Getting the soles right was paramount, the aim being to create the perfect combination of comfort and style, and the results speak for themselves. There are four basic styles: a delicate pointed-toe pump (£185), a chunky double-sole skate shoe (from £185), a high-top boot version of the skate shoe (£185) and a moulded-sole sporty boot (£195), the deep copper toecap style of which, Hulanicki says, is a favourite of her good friend Twiggy.

Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole suede and leather Boardwalker trainer, £185
Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole suede and leather Boardwalker trainer, £185
Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole velvet and leather Urban ankle boot, £185
Barbara Hulanicki for French Sole velvet and leather Urban ankle boot, £185

Having made her name in the 1960s with her glamorous, bohemian style, Hulanicki’s talent comes into its own in the details. The opulent touches she loves – rich navy or deep olive velvet, leopard-print calfskin, dusky metallics – are big features of this winter’s fashion, and she adds an embroidered skull motif inspired by Day of the Dead masks. For those who thought the skull had had its day, this one is different – friendly, with a flowery headdress but never cutesy, and it’s an option on both pumps and skate shoes.

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Quality throughout is high, especially on details such as fine-leather trims on the skate shoes, and embroidery. Each style is in limited supply – once sold out, the range will not be repeated, though the pair are not ruling out future collaborations.

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