Caroline groves gift certificate

Big initial M

Somewhere in England this month, a few very, very lucky women received an envelope like this. Hand-embroidered, the gift certificate it contains entitles the bearer to one pair of exquisite, custom-designed and custom-fitted shoes.

The cost? Well, those beautiful little gift certifcates start at 2,500 English pounds.

Caroline head shotThe designer and shoemaker is Caroline Groves, well known in the U.K. for her "bespoke" shoes, each pair made entirely by hand out of luxe materials, including not just leather, suede and velvet, but vintage silks, antique buckles, and unusual embellishments like bird feathers. 

I admire Caroline's work for its exquisite detail, and I wanted to give her to you as a New Year's present. That is, give you some photos of her work and some links you can follow to see more shoes and more details. 

May they inspire your own shoe (and handbag) design in the year to come!

Folk shoe

Caroline groves shoes 007 @ 72 dpi

This pair, called Folk Shoe, features a heel covered in vintage dark green crocodile, narrow pinked-edge piping in bright yellow, and heart-shaped punches.

Betty boop toe
Betty boop buckleGypsy Rose black velvet embroidered heels with late 18th century antique polished steel buckles

Alice_archer_salome_04-f03a2c68cd15f47aa25a36278306adfbSalome embroidered platform boots, a collaboration with designer Alice Archer, who embroiderred French lace, then printed imagery on the densely embroidered surface. The image is a detail from the 1870 painting "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist." Luckily, the designer omitted the severed head from her design….

Caroline groves jubilee

Caroline groves jubilee_002

White leather heels embroidered with English stump work using antique silver thread. The style of heel used, which is seen often in Caroline Groves' designs, is called a Coq heel.
Caroline groves yellow and black

Caroline groves yellow and black_002
Kirgaz 3

Not all of Caroline's styles are restrained! These ankle strap sandals were inspired by a traditional Kirghiz pattern. They were made using an inlay leather technique usually seen in book binding. 

Caroline groves hydrangea

Hydrangea: These suede platforms are based on a 17th century Italian style with vintage Mother of Pearl buckles and embroidered hydrangea pom-poms.


Caroline groves dover bag

New in 2013 were handbags by Caroline Groves. This "Dovers" bag is made to iPad size with gold embossed roses. It is inlaid with Burr-Amboyana wood and has a solid silver fan clasp. Amazing.

Want to see more, or see really good closeups of the details? Visit Caroline's Gallery pages, or — if you have a Facebook, Google, Twitter or Pinterest account — go salivate over the photos on her Pinterest boards.

There are also links to some good articles by and about Caroline on her Press page. My favorite piece is entitled "A foot in theatreland: From taxidermy to Victoriana skulls, Caroline Groves’s bespoke shoes mix history, skill and one-of-a-kind drama."


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