As a committed and long-time wearer of flats, I’ve always been struck by the limited choices for anyone eschewing heels; sleek sneakers, pretty ballet flats and possibly loafers are all fine for daytime, but not especially thrilling. And then along came Le Monde Beryl, whose chic, deliciously colourful – and comfortable – mules and slippers (from £275) have become, for me, a game changer since they appeared on the scene a year or two ago.
The brainchild of Lily Atherton Hanbury and Katya Shyfrin, who met while working in fine jewellery at Phillips auctioneers, the shoes are a cool spin on classic Italian furlane – the traditional footwear of Venetian gondoliers, because of their soft uppers and non-slip soles, and still sold across the city. Atherton Hanbury first chanced upon on the idea when she spotted the original slippers on a trip to the Biennale. Keen to create something practical that was also smart enough to be worn anytime, anywhere, the designers added a slight heel and an elegant, elongated toe and made the shoes – lined and soled in leather and hand-made in Florence – sturdy enough for day or night.
The brand took its name from a family of gemstones that includes a whole spectrum of rich jewels – and it’s the delicious hues that have made these shoes such a hit. The elegant velvet slippers are available in mesmerising shades of amber, gold, forest green, rust and aubergine, while the mules come in rich velvet, suede or the most sumptuous satin, in colours including green – my favourites, which look as good with jeans as they do with a dress – copper, lavender or the brilliantly named Livid Blue (a powdery mid-blue). I love the attention to detail on the mules – particularly the way that the edges of the heel are piped to match the uppers. There is one immediate, obvious problem though: how on earth to choose just one pair?