Choi, the creative director for Jimmy Choo shoes,
is shown at the company's store in Bevery Hills,
Calif., on April 17, 2014.
ANGELES ó L.A. is a place of new beginnings. So itís
appropriate that British luxury brand Jimmy Choo should
choose the city to put its best foot forward.
new store design concept on Rodeo Drive, a star-studded
Hollywood bash at the home of art collector Eugenio
Lopez Alonso featuring a performance by pop band
Bastille and the launch of a youthful new rock Ďní
roll-themed shoe collection are all part of a bold, new
direction for the label and its creative director,
has been with the company since its birth and took over
as sole creative director last year. Now sheís trying
to steady the ship after years of headline-grabbing
business dramas that have included the brandís
estrangement from her uncle, the companyís namesake
founder, Jimmy Choo, and a tell-all book by the companyís
co-founder and former designer, Tamara Mellon.
Choo is a celebration, and it makes people light
up," Choi said over breakfast recently at the
Chateau Marmont. "Itís a new chapter. But I donít
want to change the whole thing. Itís more about
modernizing it. I want the brand to have all the
ingredients to carry on. Thatís beyond me. Thatís
beyond any single person."
new store concept, which opened April 15 on Rodeo Drive,
will be a blueprint for the brand going forward. Itís
designed by David Collins Studio (the late Irish
architect is known for designing tony London restaurants
such as the Wolseley and Gordon Ramsay) with soft hues
and textures creating the feeling of a haute couture
salon mixed with the intimacy of a fantasy closet.
store is the first in the U.S. to carry menís and
womenís footwear and accessories side by side and the
first in the world to feature Choo.08, a new collection
with a more downtown spirit "moving away from the
stiletto and into brogues, combat boots and skater
shoes," Choi said.
new: a made-to-order program with prices beginning at
$750 that allows shoppers to choose from a variety of
silhouettes, fabrications, colors and heel heights to
design their own shoes, complete with personal monograms
or messages (dates, symbols or letters) on the sole.
program debuts in Beverly Hills before moving to other
stores in May.
fitting that the future direction of Jimmy Choo is
beginning here, since L.A. has played a big part in the
Malaysia-born Choo founded his small couture shoe
business in the East End of London in 1986, catering to
the jet set, including Princess Diana.
he was joined by Choi, who worked at his side on design
while studying at the prestigious Central Saint Martins
school. In 1996, Mellon came on. A former Vogue
accessories editor who went on to marry (and divorce)
billionaire Matthew Mellon, she and her fashion world
connections helped transform Jimmy Choo into a global
the late 1990s, Jimmy Choo was one of the first brands
to take a suite at the LíErmitage Hotel in the week
before the Academy Awards to introduce stars to the
shoes and place them on the red carpet. In 1998, Kate
Winslet wore green pointed-toe pumps dyed to match her
Alexander McQueen for Givenchy Oscars gown and mentioned
the shoes on the red carpet.
was so instant," Choi remembered. Jimmy Choo opened
its first L.A. store the next year.
red carpet gave the brand worldwide exposure. In 2002,
Halle Berry wore red Jimmy Choos with her red Elie Saab
gown when she became the first African-American woman to
win a lead-actress Oscar.
then, it was more about matchy-matchy. And there was no
toe cleavage," Choi said. "We did hand
painting and jewels. We had an exclusive on a local
cobbler for awards show season."
brand was further immortalized in pop culture after a
story line on the hit TV series "Sex and the
City" that had main character Carrie "losing
Lady Michelle Obama is an avowed fan ó she wore Choos
the night of her husbandís first presidential
Inauguration ó and so is the duchess of Cambridge.
label cultivated a hedonistic,
the-higher-the-heel-the-better image under the direction
of Mellon, whose model good looks shone in
advertisements and on the global social circuit. But as
the collections grew, the brand became more inclusive.
of the nice things about the brand is that it can be so
many things, a resource for heels for professional
women, and a resource for biker boots for running around
on the weekends," Choi said.
Jimmy Choo sells menís and womenís shoes and leather
goods, sunglasses, belts, scarves and fragrance at
prices ranging from $395 to $3,250.
many ways, future growth opportunity lies in further
diversification, geographically and product-wise.
company, owned by luxury group Labelux, is said to be
gearing up for a public offering. New stores are planned
in Asia. Menís footwear is a fast-growing category,
and there is a lot of potential in handbags, Choi said.
the brand hasnít had an "It" bag, per se,
the acrylic "Candy" clutch style has been
brought back season after season. For the L.A. opening,
Choi created a limited-edition version of the clutch
printed with black and red typography on a white
background. It reads, "BLAH, BLAH," a play on
the abbreviations for Beverly Hills and L.A. and the
fast-talking style of La La Land.
Choi means no disrespect.
has always felt like our spiritual home," she said.
"Itís guaranteed positivity."