Having worked in the footwear industry for over 25 years, Diane Hassall is quite a shoe-designing force to be reckoned with! Prepare to indulge in her beautiful palette of blushing bridal shoes, just perfect for taking to the aisle in on your big day, and add your own touch with the label’s incredible Shoe Artistry accessories. I caught up with Diane to discover everything from where the brand began to her pet hate…
*Sponsored by Diane Hassall*
#1 Tell us a little about the history of Diane Hassall? Where did the brand begin?
“I came into the industry almost by accident, originally I was more focused on fashion shoes. After doing work placements with Emma Hope and working a little with Jimmy Choo whilst at college – in fact Jimmy made all my degree show shoes for me!! – I also made a couple of wedding shoes and was lucky enough to make a pair for the editor of Wedding Magazine which were featured in the mag! The day it came out in print my studio answerphone was full and I suddenly found myself inundated by brides! That was over 25 years ago and I’m still here! I’ve worked with various manufacturers but have always kept my brand in one form or another. A couple of years back I decided I wanted to be completely independent again and follow my own path, I was craving real creativity, which is always tempered by the constraints of working with a larger manufacturer and if I’m honest I’d become a little disillusioned, so I left the company I was working for and started working on my own collection and I’m loving it again!”
#2 Who is Diane Hassall?
“I live in the Cotswolds with my lovely hubby and big black fluffy cat Bill! My gorgeous son is now away at Uni but I am busier than ever with www.dianehassall.com and I regularly drop in on him in London when I’m down for business (or shopping!) I love to shop (especially for clothes and shoes, obviously) but really I am quite a simple soul at heart, I love to walk out of my door and up the hills every morning before work so I start off feeling fresh and energised. I love to cook for family and friends, and eat good food and keep fit, but I also love chocolate and gin and champagne!!! And dancing!! I love to get cosy watching a period drama or a good film (oh yes, I’m a hopeless romantic!), and we also try to spend as many weeks as we can in the summer at our little house in Greece. It’s a total escape on a tiny island with crystal clear water and a simple way of life where we leave the world behind. Bliss!”
#3 Talk to us about your latest collection – what is it inspired by?
“One of my main aims with this collection was to step away from the classic ivory satin bridal shoe, after many years in the industry I’ve seen a few changes! I think contemporary brides want something trendier and they want to wear their shoes again, so it was important to me to work with a palette of nudes/blush tones which look beautifully soft and romantic but are totally wearable after the big day. I guess you could say the collection has been inspired by the contemporary bride. The colour palette was inspired by flowers, it was spring when I was first looking for inspiration and the trees were all covered with blossom, in fact floral elements feature in just about all of my collections! The shoes are all named after dahlias, one of my favourite flowers! Like I said: hopeless romantic!”
#4 If Diane Hassall could have a particular celebrity or person to be the face of the brand, who would it be? Who embodies the label in their style and personality?
“Emma Watson, she’s elegant, beautiful and stylish, but uber cool with it. She would be the perfect brand ambassador, if only!”
#5 Talk to us about your Shoe Artistry service – what does this offer brides-to-be?
“I think we all like to harness our inner designer at times! Shoe Artistry allows brides to try out a selection of beautifully handmade accessories and charms on their shoes, creating their own look! Each store has a lovely branded ‘chocolate box’ of goodies to try out, for example you can add a soft blousy tea rose to your ankle strap or a tiny pearl drop, so you can create totally different looks with the same shoe. With many of our shoes we also provide a choice of ties, so you can create a super romantic look with wispy silk ribbons and then swap them for a sleek suede lace afterwards.”
#6 What type of materials does the brand use, and where are they sourced from? What can brides-to-be always rely on Diane Hassall for?
“All our materials are sourced in Europe, France, Italy, Portugal and of course the UK wherever possible. We use the finest quality materials, Italian silk satin, finest French lace, softest kid leather and buttery soft suede from Spain and Portugal. I like to think of the collection as ‘Beautiful shoes beautifully made’.”
#7 Tell us about the design process for a new piece or collection. Where does it begin? Where does the inspiration for a new style or line often emerge from?
“I’m always jotting down tiny sketches of shapes, as and when I think of them, and saving cuttings of things which inspire me, I tend to save them up and pull everything together when I work on a new collection. I’m really inspired by fabrics, I’ve always loved blending textiles, such as lace with suede and adding a pure silk ribbon tie and I find the fabrics often suggest the style.”
#8 Do the trends influence your work?
“Absolutely, I’m constantly watching the trends, today’s brides are very fashion savvy and although I love to blend retro looks and ideas in, the overall look has to be on-trend to appeal to contemporary brides.”
#9 From your experience, when it comes to brides searching for their bridal shoes, where should they start? What should they be thinking about?
“A bride should be indulgent on her wedding day, it’s one of the few occasions when it’s all about her, so I think they should choose shoes which they really love and also reflect their personality, of course comfort is important, so if you’re not used to wearing skyscraper heels don’t feel you must on your wedding day, a lower heel can look just as beautiful! It can also be important to consider your venue……. more and more brides are opting for a change of shoes, if you’re getting married in a field then it might be best to save your sassy ankle straps for the reception!”
#10 Where would you like to see the Diane Hassall label in 10 years time?
“I’d love to have our own stores selling not only bridal shoes but also a fashion collection.”
#11 Talk us through a regular work day, what do you get up to?
“I’m generally up at around 6.30am and after a peppermint tea I check through my emails, deal with anything urgent and then I head out come rain or shine up the hills with my good friend and her dog to wake me up and start the day! I’m lucky enough to work from my garden office so when I get back I head down there (more peppermint tea!) go through any new emails and start work. My days are pretty varied: I can be designing, sourcing fabrics, making samples, looking at packaging – any number of things. I’m also often out and about visiting clients and I’m working with a great marketing agency who work with lots of creative businesses and I speak with them regularly about everything from the website, to lookbooks, to organising shoots. I also visit my factory in Portugal regularly, especially when we start work on the collection, it’s inspiring to visit different cities and cultures too. My working day usually stops for dinner around 6ish but then evenings are often spent on social media and catching up on my to do list!”
#12 Name a celebrity wedding you loved…
“It was a couple of years back, but Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl ….. she looked stunning in her uber relaxed little sweater with a simply gorgeous detailed skirt and the blue Blahniks just finished it off, totally cool and original.”
#13 If you could create a bespoke shoe for any celebrity (dead or alive) who would it be?
“1. Emma Watson (as above!) or 2. Scarlett Johansson, she’s stylish, sassy and elegant all at the same time, and absolutely gorgeous of course!”
#14 Have you ever had any really unusual shoe requests? If so, what?
“I once had to embroider a clients cats names onto the heels of her shoes – so they wouldn’t be forgotten on the day!”
THE QUICK FIRE ROUND:
#1 Summer or Winter? Summer
#2 Heels or flats? Heels
#3 Pet hate? Being cold
#4 Alcoholic beverage of choice? Gin and grapefruit
#5 Pearls or diamonds? Pearls
#6 Great British Bake Off or I’m a Celebrity? Used to be Bake Off … we’ll see now! Can you replace Mary and Mel and Sue???!
#7 Coffee or tea? Peppermint tea
#8 Favourite destination? Paxos Greece
#9 Early rise or lie in? Early rise – I love an early walk up the hills
#10 Chic in Chanel or dressed down in ripped denim? Chanel jacket with jeans!