• What to wear

    Every so often a shoe appears that in just one small trotter, sums up the mood of the moment.

    The Lana by Bionda Castana is that very shoe. The shape is elegant but the tone is suggestive, with see-through panels and lace ties at the ankle. The Lana and her sister shoes Nicole, Dekokta and the fringed Garance are the strong, confidence-giving party or work shoe for the summer. And for those customers who want something specific or unique, alongside the mainline collections, Bionda Castana offer a Custom Made service; clients choose from 12 styles, 70 swatches and four different heel heights. The finished shoes arrive a speedy four weeks later.

    The brand was created by half-Italian beauties Natalia Barbieri and Jennifer Portman, who became firm friends while at business school, took jobs in the city only to leave their high flying careers to set up Bionda Castana in 2007. Each style is designed in London and handmade in Italy, not far from Lake Como. And next week, the brand beloved by stylers including Alexa Chung, Eva Mendes and Kate Bosworth, takes the next hop up the ladder, when Natalia and Jennifer open their first shop on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia. "It's a dream to be in this area," says Natalia Barbieri. "Everyone knows Elizabeth Street. It's so… quaint and has such a great local client base. There's Jenny Packham to the right and Philip Treacy to the left. We feel it's so well suited to us."

    Expect individual buttoned pouffes, soft carpet for sockless feet and virign soles, and a taupe, gold palette with hits of walnut, mimicking the brand's slick packaging. And there'll be coffee, water or champagne on tap; the elegant way to buy suggestive shoes.

    Bionda Castana, 73 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9PJ

    Bionda Castana offers all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win a pair of Custom Made Bionda Castana shoes, (worth £595). Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • What to buy

    Hunting for party dresses amidst an ocean of choice at Selfridges, but there's one label that stands out not just for its easy but sophisticated design and great quality fabric, but unusally, for its splutteringly low price tag. 

    Self-Portrait is the creation of Malaysian-born, Central St Martin's trained designer Han Chong. His first endeavour was as creative director and co-founder of label Three Floor, before starting up Self-Portrait over a year ago, with the specific intention of delivering slick quality, high-end design at chops-lickingly sensible prices. There are great culottes, cut-out dresses, lace frocks and fine detailing that start from just £150 thanks to Chong's fabric and production contacts developed in Asia.

    The result: Self-Portrait is one of the best performing brands at Selfridges. So if you spot a look you like, don't hang about.


  • What to buy

    Unlike some hotels where the interiors are wholly unmemorable, the sensory blast at Firmdale hotels can't go unnoticed.

    The colour, warmth and textiles have more layers than The Princess and The Pea's bed. And there's no generic design or 'that'll do' attitude, with many of the wallpapers, fabrics, rugs, furniture and artwork individually crafted for a specific space. The reason for this imaginative design and hawk-eye detail is creative director Kit Kemp, who with her husband Tim owns the hotel group, (which includes Charlotte Street Hotel, Ham Yard Hotel and Crosby Street Hotel in New York).

    And for those who yearn for a slice of Kemp's colour and creativity in their own lives, now's your chance. For this week Kit launched a collaboration with high street shop Anthropologie, called Folkthread; a sensibly priced range of home furnishings including oak side tables, collage upholstered armchairs, pretty dining chairs and fair isle rugs. 

    "Anthropologie and I love folk art and handmade crafts," says Kit, "This includes embroidery, collage and beautiful materials that last and feel good. I have taken a few of my favorite designs and have adapted them especially for Anthropologie. Interiors should be fun so let's enjoy the colour." Thanks colourful Kit, we darn well will.