Linda Bennett of LK Bennett shoes is a favorite designer of Kate Middleton’s. (Middleton is, if you haven’t heard, a pregnant princess living in Britain.) A Londoner, Bennett was educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and then trained as a cordwainer (that’s shoemaker in American English) at what is now the London College of Fashion (other alums include Jimmy Choo). Clearly, Bennett developed an early fascination with shoes: she can still name the day when her mother told her the sole of her favorite Start-Rite shoes was changing from leather to synthetic. It’s that day, one assumes, she vowed revenge on the world of careless cordwainery.
At the age of 26, with £13,000 in savings and a £15,000 bank loan, Bennett opened her first shop in London. Today, with 174 stores around the world (she designs clothes too), annual sales are about £50 million. With an emphasis on comfort and old school glamour, Bennett earned the nickname “Queen of the Kitten Heel.” The short, slender heel is usually no more than one inch high. In the 1950s, American teenage girls wore them as “trainer heels.” And then movie icon Audrey Hepburn made them fashionable for every woman–a purr-fect advocate if ever there was one. Unless you include the impossibly popular princess from Disney’s 1950 film, Cinderella, whose glass slipper’s kitten heel is lodged in the hearts and minds of young girls the world over.