In 2007, best friends (and former business students) Natalia Barbieri and Jennifer Portman launched their footwear label Bionda Castana. Since then, their line has garnered a rapid celebrity following, including Keira Knightley, Eva Mendes and Kate Bosworth. This week, the design duo is opening their first flagship store in their hometown. Located on Elizabeth Street in London’s Belgravia, the store offers not only the collection but a custom-made service, which allows customers to dip through the archives to design their own heels. So what else is worth checking out in London these days? Here, Barbieri and Portman reveal their local favorites.
Favorite Shop Natalia Barbieri: Alex Eagle is fully shoppable concept store: you can buy everything from the light fixtures to the door handles. It enables you to visualise your own home and lifestyle and how those pieces would fit in. Jennifer Portman: Selfridges for clothes, Liberty of London for cosmetics, Heals for home goods and the Idea Books corner at Dover Street Market for the most original coffee table books.
Favorite Restaurant Barbieri: The Delaunay at 55 Aldwych, for people watching and perfect fish dishes. As a non-meat eater, I have so much choice. It’s great for client meetings, too. Portman: The Wolseley at 160 Piccadilly for decadent surroundings and great food.
Favorite Coffee Shop Barbieri: Kaffeine at 66 Great Titchfield Street for its cold-pressed juices. It’s just around the corner from the office. I also head there on a Sunday with my laptop. It’s a creative space. Portman: Bar Italia at 22 Frith Street in Soho. It has a great atmosphere and serves the best Italian coffee around.
Favorite View or Park Barbieri: Primrose Hill. It has a great ambience for running, and resting at the top, taking in the beauty of our city. Portman: Millennium Bridge for the imposing view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is my favorite running route on a Sunday morning when nobody is out.
Favorite Gallery or Museum Barbieri: Tate Modern for its unique exhibitions. I go on Monday mornings when it’s quiet. Portman: Saatchi Gallery on Kings Road for inspiration. It feeds my creativity and love of art.
Favorite Bakery Barbieri: Beyond Bread at 2 Charlotte Place. It’s a gluten-free bakery that’s perfect for sitting and working, with a lovely selection of healthy treats. Portman: Bread Ahead in Borough Market for the best sweet treats. Their doughnuts are delicious.
Favorite Thing About the City Barbieri: The different cultures bring out the vibrancy in the people, arts and music. Portman: Individuality and freedom of expression. You can be whoever you want to be, without judgement.