Jimmy Choo – It’s not only a name, but it’s also a legacy that will live forever in the ever-changing world of Fashion. The iconic handmade shoe brand is a household name whether an ordinary lady can afford it or not – that is a matter of opposite end.
Born out of a wrongly spelt name, the brand has been the favourite of royals since its birth. The founder of the label, son of a Malaysian shoemaker family, Jimmy Chow – his name was spelt wrongly on his birth certificate as Choo, started making shoes at the age of 11. His first pair was a simple slipper.
Jimmy came to the UK in 1982 to study at Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney. He worked at two other companies for 9 years before starting his own label in 1986. His craftsmanship and designs were soon noticed at London Fashion Week in 1988. After seeing his creations, Vogue featured the shoes in an eight-page spread.
The sexy cut, fashionable design, and exceptional Italian craftsmanship struck a chord with a sophisticated clientele, and the first collection enjoyed immediate success. With a goal of creating a global luxury business, Jimmy Choo attracted outside investment and the company embarked on a significant expansion across product categories, channels and geographies.
A pioneer in the art of celebrity dressing, Jimmy Choo was among the first to bring shoes and handbags to Hollywood where the red carpet proved to be the ideal runway for the brand. Today, Jimmy Choo can be seen on style icons from celebrities to royalty, musicians to heads of state.
The most prominent name in his clientele was ‘Diana, the Princess of Wales’. “Lady Di helped me a lot,” Jimmy says.
“She trusted me, and for the first seven years I was making shoes for her, I kept it quiet and nobody knew it was me. Even though she was a princess, she often wanted very simple things. She loved flat pumps, even though I always wanted to put her in sandals because she had the most perfect feet.
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She was always eager to exchange ideas, and she never said no to anything. When I started doing her evening shoes, everyone noticed and in those days anything she wore, people followed. She was wonderful and used to invite me to Kensington Palace at Christmas for champagne and mince pies. I made her last pair of shoes just before she died. Gold pumps. I was going to deliver them when she came back from her summer. I am sad I never could.”
The label became a legal entity in 1996. Given his contribution, Jimmy Choo was honoured with the Order of British Empire (OBE) and won British Fashion Council Awards. Today Choo is involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in Malaysia while his niece Sandra Choi handles the designing and production at the company that still bears his name.
Today the big name in his list of loyal customers is Diana’s daughter-in-law Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
About his shoe’s cost, Choo once said, “My shoes are beautiful, but they fit and they last,” he says.”Yes, there are cheaper dressy shoes on the high street, which is good for choice, but do they fit properly and will they last? My clients keep my shoes forever.“
And no truer words were ever spoken.
Check out The Jimmy Choo x NET-A-PORTER capsule collection that reimagines the idea of red carpet dressing, made up of sophisticated yet playful styles that set the tone with signature designs realised in luxurious chantilly lace, satin and suede. A touch of iconic sparkle is added with crystals, bows and feathers lending a decadent finish.
The collection was inspired by the confidence and glamour that leading ladies exude when walking the red carpet, mixed with the idea of fantasy. We referenced lots of women over the years and what they were wearing to black-tie balls. Each style has femininity, seductiveness and the finesse of couture. The shoes are highlighted with lace, crystals and exaggerated bows for added fun – but just enough to complement an outfit and not overpower it.
Sandra Chui’s advice to every lady consists of three crucial points:
- “Be aware of your individual style and stay true to that.”
- “Know your heel-height limits.”
- “If you’re going to buy a new shoe shape, especially something more refined, buy them in the afternoon. That’s when your feet are a bit more relaxed, so you’ll know whether the shoes are going to be too tight.”