Ibu team member Austin told me one day that his college friend had started making kilim shoes in Turkey. Curiosity drove me to the screen to check it out - loved instantly what I saw. Boston-based Millicent Armstrong is making one of a kind classic smoking slippers out of old kilim rugs and calling the enterprise Artemis Designs. I ordered a pair and wore them everywhere. Comfortable, richly textured, and oh so chic. Wish I could carry these, I thought, knowing you would love them as I do, but since they are not made by women artisans, the notion passed.
Then, an email from this young company announced a new slipper made of velvet ikat. I thrilled to this new twist and ordered a pair immediately. These became my new favorite of favorites. But this time, I opened the shoe box to find a postcard picturing 8 women around a loom and a shout-out to the artisans who had hand-woven the velvet. Ideas began to bloom in the back of my brain.
I wore them while meeting with Charlotte Moss about her new collection for Ibu and she exclaimed over them. Sent her a pair. Now we’re both hooked. I wondered aloud if we might approach Millicent about doing a exclusive Charlotte Moss for Ibu line made by these weavers. That’s a YES, she said.
As I am writing Millicent about a potential collaboration and mention I’m leaving soon for Morocco with Charlotte, I discover she is headed there as well, and so it is in Marrakech at last, that Charlotte and I meet up with Millicent and her mother over minty drinks and jet lag and plot something new. Not just smoking slippers, but what about sexy slides that go from jeans to long dresses, we wonder?
top, left: Millicent Armstrong, founder of Artemis Designs - top, right: Millicent in Marrakech with Susan and Charlotte and her mother as traveling companion - bottom, left: Millicent and her Boston team - bottom, right: women weaving the fabric in Uzbekistan, holding the silk cocoons.
Millicent returned to Turkey with our palette in hand and a new design and began to dig up luscious hand-woven velvet made by the same women of Uzbekistan. Many tweaks and turns later, we have four stunning patterns ready to be your next favorite shoe.
In all of this serendipitous exchange, I am learning that Millicent is a gem of a person. Generous, inspiring, a real global girlfirend, voted the last 3 years in a row the Best of Boston in three fashion categories, and championed by many national fashion magazines as one of the most promising upcoming designers. What a pleasure to share camp with Millicent and her team at Artemis Designs, and the women of Turkey who are crafting an age-old ikat technique in the complicated weave that velvet requires.
The shoes will debut at the launch of our forthcoming Charlotte Moss for Ibu collection on October 12 in New York. You can be one of the first to pre-order these limited quantity beauties and have them on your feet that week. See below!
Here’s to inspiring collaborations and to Millicent, this star of a woman and the magical flying carpet shoes her vision inspires!
all the best,
Susan Hull Walker