I first discovered Amy La Paire’s gorgeous sandals last year. Her beautiful boutique brand La Paire specialises in the kind of super-stylish sandals that make you feet look so gorgeous, you just want to kick up your heels and dance. Handmade in Spain and fashioned from the finest leather in beautiful vibrant shades, the sandals have been joined this season by some killer flats, making La Paire a brand you can wear all year-round. Inspired by “anywhere and anything, from a colour to an interesting pattern to doors, a building or a place” Amy not only has a great eye for design, but also a covetable and accessible wardrobe. Here she tells us all about it…
But, first as we know how much you love being inspired by talented, entrepreneurial women she tells us how she set up La Paire…
What was the inspiration behind setting up La Paire?
It was my inability to find comfortable stylish sandals that led me to launch the label in April 2012. Our ethos is simple; elegant shoes made from the finest leathers in a selection of vibrant shades and eye-catching styles. Our sandals are available all-year round, which at the time of launching, not many brands were doing and this allows us to cater to summer holiday goers throughout the whole year.
What were you doing before La Paire?
I started my career in finance before changing paths and moving into retail buying where I purchased cosmetics for some well-known department stores. This seems like such a long time ago now.
You’re Australian. How did you end up in the UK?
I moved over with my husband (boyfriend at the time) to broaden our work experience and do some travelling. Our plan was to stay for only two years, which then extended to four and now eight years on… Apart from missing family and close friends in Sydney, London is my home now.
How long did it take you to go from the idea of La Paire to actually bringing out your first design?
Once I finalised the concept of the business, it took almost 15 months to bring the idea to life. Whilst drafting the first designs, the other main things I had to do were to register the business, develop ideas for both the branding and website as well as source a manufacturer which was one of the difficult tasks. But once this was achieved, everything seemed to just fall into place.
Did it take a lot of research to find the best place to make the shoes?
For me, shoes made in Europe, particularly in Italy and Spain resonate with quality and craftsmanship so it was always going to be one of the two countries where my shoes were going to be produced. Along with the language barrier, it was very difficult to find a manufacturer that was willing to work with an unknown designer but my persistence paid off as I eventually found a small factory in Spain and I’ve been working with them ever since.
What do you ‘look’ for when designing a shoe?
When I design shoes, I always look at what details can be added to make them special. High-heel shoes always get the attention but I believe that sandals can just be as glamourous and dressy. Comfort is another key factor – we always test-run the samples to make sure the straps are in the right place and they feel secure on the foot.
I work from home most days and spend a lot of time in front of the computer so comfort is important. I’m usually wearing either leggings or jeans (or denim shorts in summer) with a striped top of some sort (I have an obsession with these). My Breton tops are usually from Boden – I came across this brand four years ago and it’s been my go-to since then for good quality basics. When I have meetings I wear either slim trousers with a knitted-top or a dress depending on the weather. Most of my trousers are from Zara as the fit is perfect and I love the interesting and colourful materials they use.
I’m not very tall so I’ve always worn slim-fit jeans and trousers. I probably have about 10 pairs of jeans – half of them are dark denim and the rest are in different colours, which I love wearing all year round (they’re not just for summer!). As for trousers, patterned ones are my favourite as they’re more interesting. My jeans are from various brands – J-brand, H&M, Topshop and Zara with the latter two brands my favourite as I find they fit me the best; it’s the same with trousers – Topshop and Zara.
I have a penchant for peplum tops (and dresses) as I think they’re so flattering. The brands are varied, ranging from H&M to Zara and Sandro. Boden’s knitted tops from last autumn are also a favourite, I especially love my leopard-print one.
I’m guilty of wearing the same pair of shoes regularly. Spring is one of my favourite seasons because it means I can wear my ballet flats in comfort and without freezing my feet off! And if it’s warm enough (my gauge is if my toes aren’t cold, then it’s warm enough) you can find me in a pair of my sandals. The suede-thong sandals in turquoise from my first collection are my all-time favourite.
I don’t wear a lot of jewellery on a daily basis but I do always wear my wedding band and engagement ring along with my Cartier watch that was a wedding gift from my parents. Apart from these special pieces, I might wear my diamond stud earrings that were also a wedding gift from my mother-in-law, my gold Vita Fede bangle or a gold necklace with a simple tear-drop pendant that I bought in New York. I don’t buy jewellery very often but when I do, it’s mainly for costume jewellery and I usually buy these from high-street stores like Topshop and Zara to boutique labels like Davina Combe and Les Nereides, a Parisian brand that I came across few years ago.
Handbags are one of my weaknesses as I have quite a few. I usually mix it up depending on what I’m doing on the day but I do have favourites – my orange Givenchy tote for when I’m running around doing errands as it’s big enough for everything and that’s when I pack my SLR camera as I love to take photos. On social occasions when I don’t need to carry much, I use my Chloe “Elsie” bag that’s just big enough for my wallet, phone, keys and lipstick.
If I’m going out in the evening, I’d usually just stay in the same clothes that I wore during the day but may throw on a pair of heels depending on where I’m going or what I’m doing. But if it’s a more formal affair then I would put on a dress or a pair of trousers and nice top. I have a few staples that I always veer to – my paisley-print blue trousers from Zara, green camisole top, Whistles white lace top and a black 60’s-style tunic dress. All these pieces are so versatile and that’s what I love about them – you can keep the look casual by pairing with jeans, dressy flats or sandals, or dress it up with heels and a nice piece of jewellery.
My skin has become more sensitive since moving to London, especially in the colder months so I’m now using products that are gentler for the skin such as Avene cleanser (to take off my makeup), Avene Skin Recovery cream as my day moisturiser, Vichy Idealia serum at night (this product is a great moisturiser and really does even out your skin tone), Aesop Purifying Exfoliant paste to exfoliate my face a few times a week and Cetaphil face wash daily.
I also love face masks and I swear by Biotherm’s Aquasource for when your skin needs hydrating (especially after a long-haul flight) and, Aesop’s Parsley Seed Cleansing Masque. This helps clarify your skin and minimises pores giving you a nice base to apply makeup on, great for when you need to look your best!
I always apply a base first even when I’m using a tinted moisturizer and for this, it’s either Stila’s HD Beauty Balm or RMK’s illuminating make-up base. I’ve been using Giorgio Armani silk foundation for years and absolutely love it. During the warmer months, I forgo the foundation and use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser instead, which gives me a dewy lighter coverage. I then apply Shu Uemura’s face powder and then Sephora’s blush in no.5. My lashes aren’t very curled so I use Suqqu’s lash curlers and then apply RMK’s Separate Curl mascara; this is the only mascara that seems to keep my lashes curled all day.