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Born and raised in England, Penelope Chilvers originally trained as a painter at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, and was granted a scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, to complete an MA at Complutense University in Madrid.
Her love affair with Spain and local craftsmanship began long before. As a child she spent every school holiday in the province of Girona where she first came across rustic, handmade alpargatas. She has been trying to make the perfect raw edged, bullhide moccasin that only exists in her childhood memories ever since!
Penelope lived for a few years in the city of Barcelona, as a painter and designer where she collaborated with artists and artisans. She worked with wood turners, designed for the textile industry and worked on interesting projects e.g. the restoration of the Picasso Museum. While living in Barcelona, she enjoyed riding in her lunch break in the national park of Collserola in the hills above the city wearing traditional Spanish riding boots.
She pursued the idea of bringing the Spanish riding boot to England and commissioned a small number of traditional artisans in the hills of Spain to make the perfect equestrian boot – our Long Tassel boot - to her own specifications. This boot remains a firm favourite in the collection, most famously worn back in 2004 by Prince William’s then girlfriend, Kate Middleton. Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge continues to wear her boots to this day, most recently on the Royal Tours of Canada and India.
Having returned to the UK, Penelope began to work from her kitchen table, selling over 100 pairs of the Long Tassel Boot in a short space of time to a leading fashion boutique in Notting Hill, called The Cross. From that moment on, she got to work, designing her first comprehensive collection to launch at Paris Fashion Week in 2004. The collection has since grown to include iconic styles, such as the Incredible Boot, our highly sought after après ski boot, the crepe soled Neon Safari boot and a solid offer of Goodyear welted outdoor boots and footwear for experience and adventure.
For summer, the collection includes authentically made espadrilles incorporating the traditional Catalan methods of espadrille making using natural jute and hand-sewn construction. Handmade leather sandals, sneakers and the specialist unisex Dandy slipper complete the offer.
Penelope Chilvers has a reputation for superb quality, comfort and effortless style. Styles become “wardrobe staples” or “old friends”; the dog walking boot, the easy espadrille, the quintessential Chelsea boot, and the warmest après ski boot. We design footwear and accessories to fall in love – and stay in love - with. Combining contemporary, fashion led design with enduring style and traditional craftsmanship, Penelope Chilvers produces timeless, made to last pieces that work seamlessly with each season’s trends.