These days, you know you have a style hit on your hands when those ever-present Instagirls — the Bella Hadids and Kendall Jenners of the world — are constantly papped in your goods. The latest label on that coveted shortlist: Dear Frances, the footwear brand which only launched stateside in February of this year.
Jane Frances left a career in fashion branding and marketing to follow her passion for design. "I always sort of thought about how I would do it differently, and even then I started developing an idea of what I would want my brand to be like," she tells Fashionista over the phone from her native Australia. She then retrained at the London College of Fashion, where she discovered that she was drawn to the clean lines and sculptural details of footwear. From there, she spent 12 months at a factory in Milan, honing her skills on the technical side and building invaluable relationships. (She uses that same factory today for her own line.)
"That was my start in the fashion world," Frances says. "I came at it in a different way than most people, I think; I came from a technical side and joined that with my love of fashion, color, and texture."
Of course, her background in branding means that Frances has her hands on more than just the design of the shoe; she handles everything from social media to shooting the brand's lookbooks. "I take control of all of the creative side of the brand — I think as a designer it's hard not to, really, because you have this creative mind that picks at everything and wants everything to work together," she says. "I think it's just an ongoing process of refining everything that we're doing visually, and it's something that comes naturally to me."
The key to her success thus far is adding unexpected details to minimalist shoe styles. "I'm very interested in focusing on very clean, classic silhouettes and bringing those into a more modern aesthetic," Frances says. Her signature has become inserting a thin layer of perspex — embedded with dried flowers for fall, natch — into the block heels of her mules and booties, but she also plays with different fabrics and finishes to add interest to her stilettos and slides, too. Prices start around $340 for a slide and go up to $660 for a pair of stiletto booties.
The breakaway hit for Dear Frances is easily the "Spirit" boot, which has already been spotted multiple times each on Hadid, Jenner and Selena Gomez. But it's not just the Instagram Generation — Dakota Johnson, Riley Keough and Emma Roberts are also fans of Frances's designs. "From the beginning, a lot of celebrities and style influencers seem to respond really well to the brand, and I think that's just something that happened organically," Frances says. "It's definitely become something that's been an incredible driver for our label."
Indeed, Dear Frances saw complete sell-throughs after its U.S. launch; the fall collection is currently available for pre-order, and there will be restocks of those celeb-coveted favorites, too. There are plans to further build on that initial success, with Frances eyeing e-commerce growth on her own site and potential key partnerships with U.S. retailers. But Frances is just warming up. "The name Dear Frances, for me it was the start of our story," she explains. "I felt like I was writing a letter and Dear Frances was the start, and everything comes from that."