This Celeb Stylist Is Designing Made-to-Order Luxury Sandals
Let Anita Patrickson, who outfits Julianne Hough and Portia de Rossi, complete your summer travel look with kicks from her new line, Amanu.
Fresh on the heels of the Coachella Valley Art & Music Festival's first weekend, Anita Patrickson — stylist to the likes of Eiza Gonzalez, Ruby Rose, Julianne Hough and Portia de Rossi — debuts Amanu, a line made-to-order luxury shoes, inspired in part by a lack of festival-worthy footwear options.
"I would dread Coachella fittings if my clients were looking for something light and summery," explains Patrickson. "I would either find something that fit but wasn't cute, or the aesthetic was perfect but the straps hit the foot at all the wrong points and they hated the way their feet looked."
Aimed at solving such sartorial dilemmas, Amanu (a name derived from the Patrickson heraldic Latin motto, "Manu et Mente," which translates to "By hand and by mind" and the Italian "a mano" for "by hand") is not only about scoring the ideal sandal or heel, but the experience of creating it, too.
The launch coincides with the opening of Amanu's West Hollywood pop-up workshop (open through September), where a team of highly skilled, on-site cobblers will handcraft a pair of leather shoes — custom-made from 12 styles and anywhere up to 20 color and fabrication options — in 30 minutes or less. The shoes are priced from $160 to $275.
Patrickson landed on the concept for the line after a trip to Capri for a friend's wedding. "One afternoon, close to our hotel with a little time to spare, I sat in the shoemaker's chair and had a pair of sandals made at the famous store that Jackie Kennedy had gone to," she explains. "I fell in love with the process. The idea that I could custom my own shoes not only by fit but also by style and then leave with them within 30 minutes was crazy."
Patrickson also sees Amanu as a way of pushing back on fast fashion — "cheaper, less special items and what feels like an excess of pieces that we wear and throw out once they've been Instagrammed," says the stylist, who grew up in Africa and now splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. At the workshop, "you see the energy and love that is put into each step, from marking on your feet to the angles of the straps that are sized exactly to your measurements."
Through the process of launching the line, Patrickson became acutely aware of the "poor environmental practices" that go into making shoes, from the dyes used in the leather, to the chemicals in the gluing process, and the emissions from factory-made shoes. "We cut only what we need. We make only what the customer wants and asks for, we use less glue and sealant due to our brass tacking technique and have less emissions because they are being made by hand," says Patrickson. "We are a plastic-free store and we endeavor to improve on our carbon footprint season after season."
To build the team of cobblers, Patrickson tapped four "very cool, funky 20-somethings who are passionate about shoe making and leather work," who relocated to Los Angeles from around the country. (I wasn't sure where they were going to be coming from and I imagined we would have four grumpy, older Italian men on the shop floor," she says. "But what transpired was very different!") For six weeks, the newly assembled team trained under an Italian shoemaker, who Patrickson flew out from Capri to impart his craft and techniques upon the Amanu artisans.
Early frontrunners from the line include an elegant, skinny strap flip-flop, as well as feathered mules in pink and black. "I think a lot of the standout moments come from the color ways your choose," says Patrickson. "We have the nudes, blacks, tans and python basics, but the moment you make the same exact shoe in bright red or bright yellow, it's a totally different sandal."
And the stylist has had no trouble finding people to try out the line. "I've been recruiting my clients as my guinea pigs to test-wear the sandals," she says. "Everyone has been so supportive."
605 West Knoll, West Hollywood; amanustudio.com.