Shoe designers don’t get more glamorous than Lucy Choi. Running her own eponymous shoe brand of fanciful heels (and more practical boots and flats), she knows exactly what women want for their feet.
The good shoe genes must run in the family because she’s niece to Jimmy Choo to boot. Making it a family affair, her Lucy Choi London (lucychoilondon.com) store is in the exact same spot that Choo once inhabited on Connaught Street, Mayfair.
The London connections don’t end there… This year Lucy Choi’s heels have walked the Julien Macdonald catwalk at London Fashion Week and she designed three pairs of heels inspired by the female leads in West End’s Dreamgirls musical (think major sparkle).
Lucy lives in Notting Hill with her husband and two sons. Here’s her Insider Guide to London city – and what shoes to wear while you’re there…
When is the best time of year to visit London and why?
I would say London is at its best in the summer. The street café culture comes to life, the parks are beautiful, plus the days are longer so you can fit much more in! People also go wild with colour, which is always inspiring to see when you work in fashion.
How would you spend 48 hours in London?
Connaught Village – Hyde Park’s luxury retail quarter – has so many hidden gems. It’s full of small independent boutiques where you can find one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as art and gourmet food. I love Kokoro (kokorolondon.com) where everything is exclusively created and customised. And of course popping into Lucy Choi London is a must!
Early evening, grab a bite to eat at either Kai (kaimayfair.co.uk) in Mayfair, which has the best Chinese in London, or there’s Dinings (dinings.co.uk/sw3/) in Chelsea, which fuses traditional Japanese with modern European cuisine. Then go and see the dazzling West End musical, Dreamgirls (dreamgirlswestend.com). I was so inspired and moved by the show that I designed three limited edition shoes based around the soul singing trio, The Dreams.
The next day, I’d check out a museum. My favourites are the London Fashion & Textile Museum, the V&A, and Tate Modern. I also love to walk in London’s parks so I’d also recommend taking a stroll – Hyde Park and Holland Park are two of my favourites.
How has your city influenced your work?
London is known as ‘the world’s melting pot’. It has a rich multicultural heritage and I find this so inspiring creatively. At the heart of the Lucy Choi London brand my signature style is what I call ‘rock ‘n royal’, which is inspired by the two Kates – the edgy Kate Moss and the elegant Kate Middleton. All my shoes harmonise this edge and elegance. I tend to juxtapose vibrant and striking colours with an eclectic use of luxe fabrics and textures.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I travel a lot in my work and airports are without doubt my ultimate creative inspiration. It’s a multicultural hub and I see so many different styles – I always come away buzzing with new ideas.
Why are so many of your shoes named after London hotels?
I have a lot of meetings in London hotels and I find them incredibly inspiring environments. They’re a mecca for style and I love to observe what people are wearing and how they’re put together. And of course, the hotel interiors and designs are breathtaking.
Which is your favourite neighbourhood and why?
Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove, which is where I live with my husband and two sons. It has a great energy and atmosphere – the people are friendly and interesting and it has the feel of a village community. I like that you can find independent boutiques, bespoke interior shops and emerging design talent – it’s great for finding one-off, unique pieces.
Describe your city in three words…
Vibrant. Inspirational. Unique.
What’s the best way to get around London?
I’m a big Uber fan as I like to take in the city as I get around from one meeting to the next. But I also like the bus and my two young sons, Thomas and Harrison, love it when we take a bus ride on weekends.
What should I wear?
Black is pretty much my go-to uniform. I like to combine textures contrasting leathers with faux furs, wool and silk, which then allows for a statement shoe to brighten up the outfit. In autumn/winter, I’d say leather trousers, polo neck, fitted jacket and thigh-high boots. In summer, I’d go with a fitted dress with killer heels.
What’s your ultimate London shoe – and why?
From the current collection I would say The Conrad. It’s a classic style and super-versatile. The traditional houndstooth print is given a touch of attitude with the vibrant red stripe. They look great with a skinny black leather trouser.
Essential beauty item to pack?
My make-up bag essential is by Terry Ombre Blackstar Eyeshadow Pen. I also use it as an eyeliner. Decléor’s Hydrating Oil Serum is a staple because I love the luxurious feeling on my skin.
Favourite London Hotel?
I don’t think you can’t beat Claridge’s. It’s got that quintessential English touch and nobody does it better.
I’m on the go from 7am until midnight so it’s difficult to find the time. Running around after Thomas and Harrison also keeps me fit! I do a lot of walking with my husband and when I have time I love tennis, yoga and Pilates.
I love hunting for unique one-of-a-kind pieces, so the best areas for that are Connaught Village, Elizabeth Street and Westbourne Grove. I particularly love 202 LONDON on Ledbury Road – it’s a concept store that brings together fashion with modern bistro food so you can shop and brunch. It’s a real treasure trove.
For London, it has to be ESPA Life at the Corinthia hotel. It’s a whole different level. The facials and massage treatments are out of this world. I love the deep tissue.
If you’re on a budget, Gail’s Bakery is an artisan bakery but they serve amazing soups and use natural ingredients. My all-time favourite for special occasions is La Petite Maison in Mayfair, which serves delicious French Mediterranean cuisine. The scallop dish is my all-time favourite.
I love the bar at The Connaught Hotel, Isabel in Mayfair or The Arts Club in Mayfair.
Most authentic experience to try?
I’m a big foodie so I love Hunan London in Pimlico. It’s a Chinese culinary experience where they serve 14 courses. They have no menu – you just let them know if there’s anything you don’t like and they serve up a bespoke tapas style menu of unique dishes. It’s like having your own personal chef.
Souvenir to take home?
A pair of Lucy Choi London shoes of course! (Because they are affordable, my clients often buy two or three pairs.)
Tell us your favourite secret spot in London.
It has to be a place called Melt on Ledbury road, where there’s a secret garden. I love eating ice cream there with my sons in the high summer – we also go during the winter for a proper hot chocolate.