Hope, Emma

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HOPE, Emma

British footwear designer

Born: Portsmouth, England, 11 July 1962. Education: Studied at Cordwainers College, Hackney, London, 1981-84. Career: Established business in London, 1984, first collection sold to Whistles, Joseph & Jones, London; designed and manufactured six collections for Laura Ashley, 1985-87; designed for, among others, the Chelsea Design Co., Betty Jackson, Jean Muir, English Eccentrics, 1985-87; opened first London store, 1987; designed for Harel, Paris, 1988, for Arabella Pollen, 1989, and for Nicole Farhi, from 1989; footwear fashion critic, from 1988; opened second London store, 1997; expanded line to include handbags and leather goods, 1997; opened third London store, 1999. Awards: Five Design Council awards, 1987-88; Martini Style award, 1988; Harpers and Queen award, 1989. Address: 53 Sloan Square, London SW1, England.




"Shoe Design: Tiptoeing into Industry," in Design (London), November 1988.

"Emma Hope, Shoe Designer," in the Independent (London), 12 June 1998.



Debrett's People of Today, London, 1991.


Callen, Kerena, and Liz Freemantle, "Bit Parts," in Elle (London), May 1987.

Lott, Jane, and Charity Durant, "Hoofers to the Nation," in the Observer (London), 30 August 1987.

Rumbold, Judy, "The Last Shall Be First," in The Guardian (London), 21 September 1987.

"Brave New Heels," in Connoisseur (London), October 1987.

Thackara, John, "Put Your Foot in It," in the Observer Magazine (London), 22 November 1987.

Allott, Serena, "A Foot in Every Door," in the Daily Telegraph, 20 November 1989.

Schneider-Levy, Barbara, "U.K.'s Emma Hope Bolsters Men's Line," in Footwear News, 25 November 1991.

"A Life in the Day of Emma Hope," in the Sunday Times (London),November 1991.

Sharpe, Antonia, "Frivolity with Discipline," in the Financial Times Saturday edition (London), June 1992.

Baber, Bonnie, "On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," in Footwear News, 30 January 1995.

Williams, Sally, "Hot on the Heels of the Hackney Mafia," in the Independent (London), 25 May 1996.

Cook, Emma, "How We Met; Raffaella Barker and Emma Hope," in the Independent Sunday (London), 14 July 1996.

Fallon, James, "Hoping for Success," in Footwear News, 3 February 1997.

Blanchard, Tamsin, "Made to Pleasure," in the Independent (London), 28 October 1998.

Fox, Imogen, "Shopping withEmma HopeEmma's Box of Tricks," in the Independent Sunday (London), 3 January 1999.

O'Riordain, Aoife, "The Evidence: The Shoe Designer's Work Table," in the Independent (London), 6 March 1999.

Lewis, Henny, "Fashion & Lifestyle: Emma Hope," available online at My Village: Notting Hill, (www.portowebbo.co.uk/nottinghilltv), October 2000.

"Emma Hope's Shoes," online at Create Britain, (www.createbritain.co.uk), 6 June 2001.


Emma Hope was part of the flowering of talent in British shoe design in the late 1980s. She trained at Cordwainers Technical College in London's Hackney along with successful contemporaries Christine Ahrens, Elizabeth Stuart-Smith, and Patrick Cox. There she received a thorough technical grounding that enabled her to design free, fanciful shoes that are also practical and comfortable to wear. Her first collection was sold to shops in London and America in 1984. She produced shoes for leading fashion designers such as Jean Muir, Bill Gibb, John Flett, Betty Jackson, and Joe Casely-Hayford. From 1987 Hope began exhibiting collections under her own name; in the same year, her work was featured in the 22 different styles of boots and shoes accepted by the Design Council for their footwear selection.

The opening of Hope's own shop in London in 1987 marked a new phase. She acknowledged it caused her to produce designs that were more straightforward and wearable and has described her shoes as "regalia for feet," decorative and distinctive but with comfort being an important feature. Inspiration comes from historical sources studied in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Shoe Museum in Northampton. Paintings and Greek and Roman statues have been explored for source material as well. Louis heels and elongated toes were often seen in her work. Hope's shoes have been featured in the style pages of fashionable magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Harpers and Queen. The regular appearance of her shoes in more specialized publications such as Wedding and Home reflects her prominence in the field of decorative special occasion shoes, particularly for brides.

When Hope started her business, her shoes were made to her specifications in London by skilled craftspeople, but this method became increasingly difficult and in 1995 she moved production of all her shoes to Italy. According to Hope's statement in Footwear News (1997), the change was a wonderful success: wholesale sales increased by a third in the first season and had doubled by 1997. About two-thirds of Hope's business has come through the wholesale market, while the remaining third sells through her stores.

Hope has become one of the most well-known shoe designers in Britain, and her shoes are easily found in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia. She has also added a handbag collection to match her shoes, using the same materialssuede, silk, velvet, nappa, brocade, and the like. Her incredible success can in part be attributed to the combination of practicality and luxury that she pairs for each shoe she designs. Hope always has a mind toward where the shoes might be worn and how they will make the wearer feel; in other words, she puts herself in their shoes.

Linda Coleing;

updated by Carrie Snyder