Back on that hectic day in February and in the relative tranquil of Savile Row, Claire Malcolm showed her debut collection for the historic and royally patronised house Hardy Amies. For AW11, the design talent explored a period of Sir Hardy’s life in which he was a particularly prominent figure on the European society circuit in the 1930s. In a widely acclaimed show, and in the true spirit of Sir Hardy himself, no detail was left unconsidered. The show unveiled the fruits of a collaboration with Edward Green. In a happy marriage between two quintessentially English companies that pride themselves on quality and style, the offspring were particularly stunning. The range, developed closely with Malcolm, infuses classic Edward Green quality and the dashing Hardy Amies’ sartorial spirit. Four Edward Green classics have been reworked in a palette of blues, greys and burgundies to complement the catwalk collection.
To mark the launch of the covetable collaborative which are now available in Matches and Edward Green's Jermyn Street shop, we sat down with Edward Green's very own Euan Denholm. Here we talk about the collaboration, take a closer look at the shoes themselves and learn what the Jermyn Street space has in store for us...
Edward Green for Hardy Amies. Introducing the Midnight/ Twilight Falkirk brogue; Black/ slate Piccadilly loafer; Burgundy / old rose Shannon boot; and Slate Chelsea oxford.
SS: What brought these two quintessentially English companies together for this showcase of craftsmanship and design?
Euan Denholm: The idea started because Hardy Amies wanted to have beautiful shoes for their London Fashion Week show. They came to us to see what we might be able to do for them. There's a wonderfully dynamic new team at Hardy Amies who are really looking to bring a fresh angle to Savile Row. So it seemed right to jointly develop the capsule collection and offer them beyond the catwalk show.
SS: How would you describe Edward Green? And Hardy Amies?
Euan Denholm: More than anything else Edward Green is defined by a dedication to craftsmanship. We've been making shoes since 1890 and the workshop in Northampton is very much our heart. We've been asked to make shoes by many leading brands over the years because they know our quality is the best. Our own shoes have a recognisably English look - but always an elegant English look. Even a rugged shoe has a refinement to it.
Hardy Amies is of course a Savile Row tailor - established by Sir Hardy who designed dresses for the Queen and really personified a certain sartorial spirit in his own age. Today, his successor Claire Malcolm is bringing a new creativity to Savile Row and her ready-to-wear collection has been bought by many of the world's leading fashion boutiques. English tailors haven't always found it easy to evolve in the way that French couture houses have done but Hardy is doing a very good job of bringing their tailoring to a new audience.
SS: The range reimagines four classic Edward Green styles. Could you tell us a little about the original to Chelsea, Falkirk, Piccadilly and Shannon.
Euan Denholm: The Chelsea has long been our best-selling shoe - this version is on the slim 82 last which makes for a perfectly balanced cap-toed oxford. It has our signature 'swan's neck' - a detail drawn from the 1930s.
The Falkirk is a brogue with a thistle pattern. In it's usual browns it's a heavier country brogue but the colour palette of blues and greys gives a very different look - the juxtaposition makes for a shoe of real character.
I think the Shannon's probably my favourite of the set. It bears a striking resemblance to the old RAF marching boot in our archive. We've produced it in black and burgundy with different suedes but the two levels of polish in this capsule give it a new life.
The Piccadilly is our best-selling loafer - it's popular in black and chestnut. There's also a lovely very classic chestnut version with a twill apron - similar to another loafer - the handsewn Harrow - that used to be a favourite of the Duke of Windsor.
The Duke of Windsor's favourite reimagined. The Piccadilly loafer in slate/ black.
SS: How were these classics reworked to compliment Hardy Amies' AW11 collection? Could you talk us through the design dynamic and working relationship with Claire Malcolm?
Euan Denholm: Claire chose the patterns that she felt best complimented her clothes and reworked them in the collection's colour palette. We'd recently started doing some shoes in midnight blue but the light slate was a new leather which worked really well with the greys of her clothes. Once we found the right base colours we experimented a little with the polishing and Claire liked the toecaps polished down to a darkened shine. It gives them a certain wow. I remember that there were three of us over at the house on Savile Row polishing and polishing until we had all the shoes just right the Saturday before the catwalk show.
The Falkirk in midnight twilight.
SS: What's next for Edward Green?
Euan Denholm: As well as the Hardy Amies collaboration, we've got some other really interesting new shoes in for AW2011. The Harrogate and Oakdale are two very elegant longwings - a derby and oxford respectively - very classic EG but in a full range of our burnished calf leathers. Then there's the Lakes Collection - three country inspired shoes with solid storm welts in beautiful cordovans and coloured country calfs - I think that they'd be the ones to catch the eye of many a Style Salvage reader. In the shop everyone is most excited by the Ullswater brogue in navy country calf.
If you come into the shop on Jermyn Street you can expect to see plenty of other new shoes too going forward. We're making more limited orders which allows us to bring in regular new models - so expect to see a green suede capsule later in the autumn.
Edward Greens will be available at Spencer Hart's new flagship on Brook Street in Mayfair. It's very much Rat Pack cool. So expect to see a dark sophisticated set which would tempt Frank Sinatra.
My personal favourite...the Shannon range.
As Euan Denholm talked me through the collaboration and pointed out the key designs for the coming season he invited me up to see their workshop for myself. Of course, I jumped at the chance and will soon make the trip up to Northampton. However, to whet my appetite further, he sent through a selection of shots that he himself took. The workshop continues to make shoes according to the same simple philosophy Edward Green laid out in 1890 – never compromise the integrity of the craftsman. Where necessary their shoes are still hand-sewn with a pig’s bristle; they are still hand cut by a ‘shoe clicker’ who makes his own knife; they are still Goodyear welted, allowing them to be remade again and again, gaining character as the years go by. Denholm's photography captures this spirit and demonstration of craft wonderfully.
All images by Euan Denholm.