Jane Winkworth

Question and Answer : London Sole v French Sole February 08th 2019

The New Year brought a flurry of emails from people wanting to know what is going on at French Sole?

I honestly cannot answer you all because I genuinely don't know. I have tried to respond to everyone personally and thank you to those of you who were kind enough to tell me how much my presence at French Sole is missed - but moving on, I am no longer involved with either French Sole or London Sole.

London Sole was a French Sole “spin-off” company which was very successfully started by businessman Ben Scott and taken to the U.S.A in 2002. London Sole was an absolute hit from day one and since I was the designer and style director for them, I was lucky enough to travel backwards and forwards from London to LA on a regular basis, ending up by  buying a wonderful second home there and calling myself a a part time Angeleno.

However, after about ten years or so - business changed and with the endless copying that America is so infamous for - the London Sole high quality shoes were copied and sold for next to nothing in all the Steve Madden / Walmart / Target type stores that abound on every street corner and trade dwindled away helped by a group of flaky, hopeless book-keepers and several dishonest sales assistants - all contributed to the eventual decline and closure of the three London Sole stores.Meanwhile I had decided to sell French Sole and when I sold out to private equity CJA and Charles James back in 2017 - London Sole was pretty much over and done with.

Anyway, here are just a few of the questions to come up on a regular basis - so hopefully this will help any of you wanting more information than you are currently able to access from French Sole staff:

Question: “Jane where are you? Have you left French Sole? What is going on there? No shoes, no sizes, nothing new, same old stuff, no handbags, shops look dirty and Kings Road store falling down and Covent Garden open one minute, closed the next? What is going on and where are the poodles which were the epitome of French Style which have now been replaced by a bunny rabbit?”

Answer: I have completely retired from the shoe business and in 2017 I sold French Sole / London Sole to a private equity company called CJA. They changed their name soon afterwards and the new owner / managing director is called Myles Charles Bunyard. I completely left the company and have never been back and have absolutely no involvement at all on any level.

My two amazing and wonderful factories in France and Spain - Hirica / Jean Francois Bru and Asfalto / Manuel Vera were dropped by the new owners and as a result Manuel Vera went into administration and Hirica no longer supply French Sole's new owners. I agree, no new  styles - just a few of my old designs are still being sold and the ballet flats are made in Greece. I have no idea about handbags - nobody to design them I guess. I think the two last remaining shops certainly look tired and the Kings Road I agree is a forlorn sight (sorry Rick and Bex!!) but maybe painters have been booked!! Regarding the poodles? No idea, a bunny rabbit? Not sure about that either!!

Do please keep contacting me and I will do my best to be more specific when answering personally.

I have also had hundreds of enquiries regarding the famous and now iconic Little Dax shoe that was designed by my lovely friend Rosie Fortescue together with French Sole, which we sold in  aid of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Rosie and I both love dachshunds and her dog Noodle and my Daphne were always our “inspiration” for this gorgeous shoe.

Sadly, the new owners of French Sole decided not to extend the contract with Battersea and so this collaboration ended in late 2017, but not after we had proudly donated a whopping £45,000,00 to this amazing and worthwhile charity.

I understand from all your emails that these shoes continued to be sold from the Kings Road store under Rosie's name as the designer, so I suggest for more information you visit her website and also buy some of her absolutely gorgeous jewellery. Rosie's instagram page is brilliant and by far the best of any fashion influencer's Instagram currently out there.

Very sadly, lovely Noodle passed away last year and poor Rosie was heartbroken. Noodle was the “Grand Dame” of dogs in Battersea Park.

The images on this blog are just a few of the many designs I made as an eponymous freelance designer for the cashmere scarves we sold at London Sole in Santa Monica and which are now being issued as Post Cards, Correspondence Cards and Gift Tags - so look out for them in a store near you and think of me!

I am longing to hear all your news, so please get in touch!
With love,

Categories: Work

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Charities Jane supports:

The Royal ballet school English National Ballet Starlight ACCA The Royal Marsden Havens Hospice