DUBAI — Banker turned footwear designer Jennifer Chamandi landed here this week to launch a pop-up at Level Shoes in Dubai Mall. The collection consists of seven styles, and her first bridal shoe.
“I like to work with exclusives because it brings a strong relationship with my retailers,” Chamandi said.
Retailers have responded positively to her signature heels, which feature a distinctive gold-plated eyedrop-shaped hole carved and inlaid into every heel. A removable strap is worn threaded through the hole.
The signature has set the designer apart, she said. “I wanted the shoes to be recognizable because it’s a very competitive market.”
Developing the heel was complex. “It’s very easy to have a strap around the heel, but I need something more technical.”
Chamandi studied Italian intensely for four months before going to meet the family run artisan atelier in Parabiago, Italy’s shoe capital, to present her idea. It took nine months of prototyping and manufacturing innovations to create the technically complicated shoe. “We developed a technique, a whole different type of heel,” she explained. Chamandi is in the process of patenting the heel in the U.K., which is she said is “99 percent there.”
“Every season I like to introduce one style. I really think buyers need and edit from designers,” she said. “I’m quite classic, but I like to play with textures and colors to make it more interesting and playful.”
While the brand is British, Chamandi, whose parents live in Lebanon, said she has been inspired by her Middle Eastern heritage. “I travel a lot to the Middle East and I see these inspirational women who marry textures and colors and for me that sparks an idea. Middle Eastern women have immaculate taste and are very sophisticated. They aren’t fashion addicts in the sense that yes, they will buy the seasonal shoe, but they build their core collection of classics, then on top they will add on.” Chamandi said that is also the ethos of the brand.
The label has had strong growth since she launched in London at the end of 2016. “This year I would like to consolidate what I have,” she said. “If a brand grows too quickly, the desirability can be affected. I want to pace things, and let the brand grow organically.” She does have big ambitions to be in the U.S., but “in due time.”
Next up: She will be launching flats in April.