New British-based shoe designer Jennifer Chamandi has yet to launch her eponymous line, but she already has an A-list fan in Bella Hadid. The supermodel appears on Chamandi’s Instagram feed wearing a pair of her signature Lorenzo pumps and was also the first to comment on the picture, posting a string of heart emojis.
A former banker, the British-Lebanese designer quit her job in 2014 to follow her heart. “I have always been passionate about shoes and said I’d have my own line,” says Chamandi.
Her traditional Middle Eastern parents had steered her toward a more established career path, and she studied at London School of Economics. “My heart wasn’t in it, though, so two years ago, I figured it was now or never,” she says of her decision.
However, her approach to launching her brand owes much to the skill set of her former career. Chamandi took intensive courses at London’s Central Saint Martins and Cordwainers College and hired an Italian tutor, who came every day for four months. “I knew the small Italian artisans I wanted to use didn’t speak much English, so I needed to be fluent,” she says.
As for her USP: “With all the competition, I knew I needed a different angle: If there were 10 shoes in front of you, I wanted mine to be instantly recognizable.”
Her “eureka moment” came via the French translation of stiletto: “talon aiguille,” which literally means “needle heel.” “I thought, ‘What if my heel is the needle and the strap goes through the eye of the needle, echoing the thread?’ ” she says. And her signature was born.
Having worked with her manufacturer — in the village of Parabiago (also used by Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik) — for nine months, she presented her prototype to Browns Fashion CEO Holli Rogers and the buying team, who were instantly smitten. They ordered six styles.
“Although there are a lot of pumps out there, Jennifer’s are very much the 2.0 version,” enthuses non-apparel buying manager Ida Petersson. “The attention to detail, the sleek color combinations and, not least, the fit are just a few of the reasons we felt she was perfect for Browns.”
But what of the Hadid connection? She is the face of the Boghossian marketing campaign – the high-end jewelry line is the family business of Chamandi’s husband. Having researched her shoe size online, Chamandi presented the model with a leopard-skin design during the campaign shoot. “She loved them and went and liked the picture [on Instragram] then and there and followed me, too,” she says.
Chamandi, who is pregnant, launches in Browns on Oct. 20 and will give birth to twins a month later. “I’m delivering three babies this year,” she says, “but don’t worry: I’ve got everything under control.”
The collection ranges in price from $715-$805.