Fashion: Shopping with... Emma Hope - Emma's box of tricks

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Indy Lifestyle Online
SHOE designer Emma Hope invests great importance in her tool kit and gets "very cross when things get nicked out of it." A see-through bag containing flexible rulers for measuring shoe heel heights, and all manner of stationery - Tipp-Ex mice, highlighter pens and repositionable glue from Rymans (enquiries: 0800 801901) is never far from her side. "I could spend my life in stationers!" she proclaims.

It`s not surprising that Hope likes practical things. She remembers her very favourite present given to her when she was six. "My godfather, who was a First World War reconnaissance pilot, gave me a pair of scissors and it was the best present I'd ever had." Nowadays, Hope continues to enjoy shopping for hardware - pen knives with handy built-in corkscrews - from Robert Dyas (enquiries: 01372 361444) "I like ironmongers because they are so practical."

When Hope is in Italy, where her shoes are manufactured, she visits little hardware shops around Florence. "I was recently fascinated by a thick, moulded rubber bucket I saw there. You can only get two types of bucket in England!" She also shops for olive oil in the Florentine delis attached to restaurants there. "I love the woodiness of the first pressing."

Back in London, Hope buys her foodie treats from the Chelsea area not far from her own shops. "I go to Partridges of Sloane Street [132-134 Sloane Street, London SW1, tel: 0171 730 0651] because it's round the corner, and Maison Blanc [11 Elystan Street, Chelsea Green, London SW3, tel: 0171 584 6913] because they do the best tart citron ever. When I used to drive to work I used to go there first thing to get some breakfast. There was always a strange mix of Chelsea people snatching breakfast." For the sweetest handmade fudge made by The Toffee Shop in Penrith, Hope stocks up at Finns (4 Elystan Street, Chelsea Green, London SW3, tel: 0171 225 0733).

Hope's favourite shop in this particular corner of London would seem to be Peter Jones (Sloane Square, London SW1W, tel: 0171 730 3434). She recently bought the carpet for her new shop there, and the John Lewis approach to retail appeals. "It makes you feel quite happy to spend money there," she smiles.

In search of design inspiration, Hope can often be found "frisking through Oxfam [general enquiries: 01865 313600] for old handbags. Junk shops in London are sometimes off-putting. There's something more exciting about junk shops where things haven't been primped up and you have to dig a bit." Hope finds such places at the weekends in Cornwall.

At the other end of the scale, she likes The General Trading Company [144 Sloane Street, London, SW1, tel: 0171 730 0411]. "It's sort of a bit Sloaney but I went up to the first floor the other day and they have some really nice things: Indian slippers, and shawls for pounds 50."

One of the quirkiest things Hope has bought is a lampshade with cowboys careering around it from Hugh St. Clair Interior Design (01263 587777). "When I wake up at six in the morning I think, `how am I going to get everything done today?' but then I see the cowboys going around and it's all okay!"

Does Hope have any cobbler's secrets to impart? "We use the same company all the time for shoe repairs: Howard Stone [enquiries: 01843 833347]. He can do things like make boots narrower so they fit the calf better, which sounds quite difficult, but things which I think are really easy to mend, they say, `oh no - you can't do that!'"

Emma Hope's new shop is at 53 Sloane Square, London, SW1