Born and raised in England, Penelope originally trained as a painter at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, and was granted a scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, to complete an MA at Complutense University in Madrid.
Her love affair with Spain and local craftsmanship began long before. As a child she spent every school holiday in the province of Girona where she first came across rustic, handmade alpargatas. She has been trying to make the perfect raw edged, bullhide moccasin that only exists in her childhood memories ever since!
Penelope lived for a few years in the city of Barcelona, as a painter and designer where she collaborated with artists and artisans. She worked with wood turners, designed for the textile industry and worked on interesting projects e.g. the restoration of the Picasso Museum.
She continued to pursue the idea of bringing the Spanish Riding boot to England, unearthing a small number of traditional artisans in the hills of Spain and commissioned them to make the perfect equestrian boot, to her own specifications, that is still a firm staple in her collection. This boot has received extensive attention since it was worn by the Duchess of Cambridge in 2004.
In the first months she sold over 100 pairs to a fashion boutique in Notting Hill, called The Cross. This was quite remarkable for such a tiny shop, and from that moment on, she got to work, designing her first comprehensive collection for launch at Paris Fashion Week in 2004. The collections have since grown to include some iconic styles, such as the Incredible Boot, the Intrepid, both highly sought after urban snow boots, and a solid offer of Goodyear leather-soled outdoor boots for autumn.
Chilvers is recognised as a specialist for her Dandy slipper, made to the most exacting standards on the market. Her bespoke service, and its design led offer, is unique in every way. So named the Dandy because of its flamboyant feel, and inspired by the decadent 70s aesthetes who fled to North Africa to absorb themselves in the lavish and beautiful things that they discovered there, now available for men and women.
For summer, Penelope Chilvers’ staple is a collection of authentically made leather espadrilles incorporating the traditional Catalan methods of espadrille making using natural jute and hand-sewn construction. The offer has grown to include handmade leather sandals, sneakers encompassing other traditional methods of construction with her Spanish factories.
Her designs can be purchased directly from the Penelope Chilvers online boutique or Notting Hill store on Ledbury Road or the flagship store on Duke Street, Mayfair. Her collections are distributed worldwide to leading fashion stores, online boutiques and established country lifestyle stores.