Le Monde Beryl – by Katya Shyfrin & Lily Atherton Hanbury

Words:
April Ru Wan

We can’t deny that Mary Jane’s have been on the top of our wishlist recently, can you blame us? They hit all the marks for a modern day woman; comfort, style and functionality! Meet Katya Shyfrin and Lily Atherton Hanbury, the power duo behind the most coveted flats that’s been spotted on some of our favourite It girls; Sofia Richie Grainge, Alexa Chung, Daisy Edgar-Jones and the list goes on. The two founders originally met through a jewellery project as both had prominent backgrounds in gemmology before connecting on their shared love for design, craftsmanship and the process of making. The initial inspiration to launch a shoe design took place in Venice, as Lily found it difficult to find stylish shoewear for her to run around town in without sacrificing comfort – which led to the brands first hit, the Venetian Slipper. Fast forward to the present day, the Le Monde Beryl Mary Jane ballet flat has become a quintessential item in every woman’s closet. Read our interview below with Lily as we dig deeper into the initial launch, their work life balance and what it means to be a Le Monde Beryl woman.

April Wan: You both have an impressive background in gemmology and jewellery, which beautifully reflects in Le Monde Beryl’s name. But I’m intrigued—why start with shoes as the flagship product?
Lily Atherton Hanbury: Shoes enhance a way of living and for us that is a life full of travel, culture, walking rather than driving and also being mothers. The idea began as a solution to something I felt was missing in the market, I couldn’t ever find chic flat shoes that I could wear from day to night and on my travels.
AW: What inspired the two of you to join forces and bring Le Monde Beryl to life? There must be a fascinating story behind this partnership.
LAH: We met while working on a curatorial project around jewellery and we immediately bonded over a shared passion for design, craftsmanship and the process of making. I explained this idea that had come to me during the Venice Biennale earlier that year, while walking all day over cobble stones, dirt, marble, on and off boats, trying to pack in as much as possible including parties in the evening, that one shoe, like a Venetian slipper, could take you to all of those places. That particular shoe represented all of the things I loved about design and even jewellery; the history, ingenuity and materiality. The use of up cycled scraps of velvet and bicycle tires set the tone for our ethos and the brand itself. We continue to be really inspired by shoes as a functional yet stylish element of a uniform for living, like a Gondolier’s slipper, ballet shoe or riding boot.
AW: Originally celebrated for the iconic Venetian slippers, your brand has now captured attention with the viral Mary Janes collection. Worn by fashion icons like Sofia Richie and Hailey Bieber, what was the creative spark behind this particular design?
LAH: Our design process always starts with a collage of images from our own experience, film, art and historical research. This particular style was inspired by a friend of mine who was wearing the Chinese embroidered Mary Janes on a trip to Nevis and I hadn’t seen anyone wearing them since I was a child but the unexpected context made me fall in love with the shape all over again. They are feminine while also being tomboy, nostalgic yet modern, low key and luxurious.
AW: The Venetian slippers sister – the Venetian Kitten Heel in mesh is one of the newest additions to the family. It’s lovely to see the brands signature shape grow and develop as time moves. During the design process, how do you both bring fresh ideas to the table without losing the core of the brand?
LAH: We always design around how we want to be living, so our research starts with a combination of our everyday experience and desires. All of the things that originally inspired us about the Venetian slipper still resonate in our design process; the functionality, design for purpose and movement, looking back to make something new, ingenuity and sustainability of repurposing materials or finding inventive ways to be environmentally conscious like working with botanical dyes harvested and produced locally.
AW: In your vision, who is the quintessential Le Monde Beryl woman? What characteristics does she embody?
LAH: She is curious and tenacious, intelligent, adventurous and kind. 
AW:Could you give us a glimpse into your daily routines? How do you start and end your day while juggling the demands of a thriving fashion brand?
LAH: We both make sure we start the day with a walk either to school or with my dogs. We have a wonderful team between London, Italy and New York, so our days are very full in meetings and in the design studio but we both punctuate the day with exercise because it keeps our energy high and thoughts clear. And then we try to switch off if possible from dinner onward. Sundays are both of our favourite day to generate and explore ideas because the incoming emails and information grinds to a halt. We try not to bother our team but we do send each other a flurry of ideas every Sunday.
AW: Which of your designs would you say is the quintessential day-to-night shoe, and how would you suggest styling it?
LAH: The babouche kitten heel with jeans is the perfect day to night shoe. I am a vintage jeans person, so I wear them with slightly cropped jeans, but they also look great with a dress.
AW: Lastly, any exciting developments or sneak peeks you can share about what’s next for Le Monde Beryl this year?
LAH: We have a number of really exciting launches to come this year, including a brand-first silhouette to come in summer.
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