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The prettiest ballet flats on earth |

Fashion and Beauty

The prettiest ballet flats on earth

SHOPSIFTED - Ana G. Kalaw -

Ever since Audrey Hepburn wore them in the 1957 movie Funny Face, pairing them with ankle-skimming skinny pants, ballet flats have

London-born footwear brand French Sole’s ballet flats, available in hundreds of colors and finishes, has been called “the prettiest ballet flats around” by Vogue.

transcended their plié connections to be considered a must in every woman’s wardrobe. Though every fashion label has had its own version of the ballet flats, it wasn’t until 1989 that a shoe designer set up the first ever “concept” company dedicated to ballet style footwear.

Ballet devotee Jane Winkworth of London combined a background in art and design to create French Sole, a label named for the country of ballet’s formal founding. Her first design was, of course, a pair of flats inspired by ballet shoes: soft, round-toe and with the requisite flimsy ribbon. Initially Winkworth sold them from her basement using a mail-order system. Eventually this little basement venture which started out 21 years ago is now a full-fledged fashion company with four stores in London, 400 retail outlets across the world and a clientele composed of celebrities and personalities known for their discerning style. Interestingly enough, one of French Sole’s first and most dedicated customers was Diana, the late Princess of Wales. It was said that she was such a fan that her former stylist, Catherine Walker bought 12 pairs in different colors at one point.

Other celebrities who can’t get enough of French Sole include Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Katie Holmes, Sienna Miller, English supermodels Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd, Kate Middleton (better known as Prince William’s fiancée) and another Brit royal, Princess Beatrice, Fergie’s daughter. Even fashion editors are not immune to the French Sole’s charms; the label has been voted by ‘The Best Ballet Flats’ by Glamour and praised by Vogue as “the prettiest ballet flats around.”

For their latest collection, the brand updates with slingbacks, kitten heel sandals, gladiators, pumps and even low wedge pumps to their

Claudia Schiffer takes her Soles shopping.

collection. Finishes run from brightly coloured suedes to printed textiles to this season’s trendy animal prints — French sole has sexy snakeskin’s and leopard prints. Even flat boots have been included in the range, to great reception.

However, the classic ballet flat remains the brand’s most popular and their core product. The Harriet, a “romantic” low-vamped, round toe flat made of ultra-malleable leather that moulds to the shape of the foot. Though French Sole still uses their original French factory partners, they also now have their own factory in Spain “manufacturing all Jane’s unique designs using only the finest and best quality Italian and Spanish skins.” Aside from traditional leather, Winkworth also works with unusual materials such handmade or vintage embroidery, luxurious silk fabric, nubuck and suede to come up with hundreds of color and design combinations, making them the most comfortable and versatile ballet flats around — Scarlett Johansson wears a black leather pair with her cocktail dresses.

Another popular style is the Henrietta, a sturdy pair of flats with a toecap and quilted finish, said to be favored by MTV presenter and present current fashion “it girl” Alexa Chung.

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French Sole is available at Adora in Greenbelt 5.

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