Kari Chaudhry is a women’s couture shoe designer who runs her own style boutique at 19 Beauchamp Place in London’s Knightsbridge, called The Collective by Kari C.
Brands instore include Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Proenza Schouler, Sepanta fine jewellery, Chloé, Lecoanet Hemant and Balenciaga.
LM: Tell us a bit more about yourself
KC: I am Canadian Indian and studied in New York. I started my career in finance, retrained to work in the fashion industry, which led me to work for Alexander McQueen and launch my own shoe line.
LM: The shoe line sounds interesting. Tell us more
KC: I set up the business five years ago. All of my shoes are handmade in Italy and I am involved in the design process from start to finish. The brands I stock in my boutique reflect the same message as my own shoes; comfortable, quality items suited to a luxury market. My boutique offers a bespoke service from creating a new design from scratch to where clients customize shoes from our existing collection. Some women struggle finding shoes that fit comfortably or to their size so they come to me.
LM: What turn around time can customers expect if they need bespoke shoes?
KC: Once we have the initial consultation it can take anything from one week up to three months. It depends on the complexity of the design and availability of the materials and there are up to two fittings in between.
LM: What is your vision for The Collective by Kari C?
KC: The Collective by Kari C. is a concept-destination boutique. I wanted to create a space that is a multi-purpose platform to showcase exclusive brands. It’s a retail boutique for customers but it’s also a showroom for many designers. Here, they conduct fittings with customers, have events for launches/previews for their upcoming collections and hold appointments with buyers and press.
LM: How did you go about curating the other labels in store?
KC: Each brand is hand picked and I’ve been highly selective with who we’ve brought on board so far. Brands must complement each other but also The Collective. It’s also a reflection of my own personal style.
LM: How would you define your own style?
KC: Edgy, bold and fun pieces but I’m still comfortable in them. I love glamour, have an obsession with metallic and leather, anything that is feminine but tough, nothing dainty. I also like to invest in pieces that transcend time. I’m in my thirties now and gravitate to pieces I still can wear 10 years from now. These are the pieces you’ll definitely find at The Collective.
LM: Do you have a favourite shoe designer? If so, who is/are they and why?
KC: I love Nicolas Kirkwood. They’re very stylish, sculptural and love their colours and prints.
LM: Which pair of shoes do you have in your wardrobe as your ultimate must-haves?
KC: My Bumblebee Becca’s (which I’m wearing right now) are my ultimate favourite as I always dress in monochromes so it’s a really good stand out piece.
LM: Where do you seek inspiration from when you develop your designs?
KC: Everything. But in particular travels. The colours I use are mostly inspired by the elements and nature, for example in the ready-to-wear collection, the pink is from a butterfly, the blue is from the neck of a peacock and the green is from an Amazon parrot. The Watercolour Vanessa shoes (now sold out) were inspired by a watercolour painting.
LM: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
KC: I’m living here in London and I just love it. The options of New York and Toronto weren’t that bad, but I’m living exactly where I want to be.
LM: What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
KC: There’s lots. My favourite restaurant is Berners Tavern. I love the ambience – you can literally take anyone there and you know you’ll have a great time. It’s not stuffy, it’s so cool!
LM: What do you like to do in your free time when you are not working?
KC: I love to travel, I love shopping excursions, I love going back to New York and catching up with friends and family. Any free time I get is usually spent travelling.
Kari Chaudhry and Kari.C – Where and How?
Interview conducted by Reena Patel