Jimmy Choo’s sage advice
B uying shoes online is a bad idea, says the man who redefined women’s footwear 30 years ago.
The iconic brand that bears his name makes much of its money from online ready-to-wear sales, but Jimmy Choo says it’s vital to try before you buy.
“You must try on the pair of shoes first,” the 68-year-old explains to BW Magazine. “It may look amazing on the window display but it might not suit you in terms of cut and design.
“It must fit you like a glove and you are able to walk in them without any pinching sensation on your toes and heels.”
The Malaysian-born shoemaker visited Sydney this month for a series of events. He also travelled to Brisbane, where he held a masterclass for TAFE Queensland students, called Creativity Through Skills.
The Australian visit is the second for Choo in recent years — he presented a masterclass at Perth’s Curtin University in 2015.
The iconic shoemaker describes Australia’s style as daring and creative.
“There are so many great talents and resources in Australia,” he says. “It’s so refreshing to meet fashion students to understand their inspirations, their designs and their creative thinking.
“Style-wise, Australians are fashionable and dare to explore with colours and cuts.”
Choo, awarded the title of “Visiting Professor” by the London Institute, nominates Elle Macpherson, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia among his favourite celebrities, having worked with them during his days at the helm of the Jimmy Choo business (he sold his share in the business in 2001 and fashion giant Michael Kors bought out the company three months ago).
But it was another Australian who helped launch Choo and his brand into the fashion stratosphere.
At the 1999 Oscars, Cate Blanchett stepped onto the red carpet in a midnight blue John Galliano gown. She paired it with a pair of Jimmy Choo indigo, satin stilettos. It was Blanchett’s first Oscars and she was nominated for her first Academy Award for her role in Elizabeth.
She missed out on the gong but established herself and the Choo brand, then just three years old, as Hollywood fashion benchmarks.
Blanchett was not Choo’s first famous customer, however, that title belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Diana had been a customer when Choo was still hand-making heels at a rate of just 20 pairs a week from a small workroom in London’s Hackney. She had been introduced to Choo through designer Tomasz Starzewski.
Choo would accompany Starzewski to Kensington Palace when Diana needed co-ordinating footwear for her dresses, and the pair developed a close working relationship. The last pair of heels he designed for her, just before her death in 1997, were never collected.
“I was grateful and privileged to have worked with the late Princess Diana for 10 years,” Choo says. “She was not just my client, she was a great friend and confidant, (and) I truly miss her.”
In 2000, cult TV series Sex And The City further lifted the brand’s status, with its iconic, shoe-obsessed character Carrie Bradshaw bemoaning the loss of a single Jimmy Choo stiletto in season three.
“I lost my Choo!” she shouted as she raced to catch the Staten Island Ferry.
Choo’s current business may be much more bespoke than the one he sold out of more than 15 years ago, but his passion for a well-designed shoe hasn’t wavered. He believes a great pair of shoes can transform an outfit, but said women didn’t require a collection to rival Bradshaw’s in order to be stylish.
“Her wardrobe essentials are a pair of flat pumps for casual, semi-high heels for her day-to-day wear and high heels for that special occasions or evening wear,” he says.
“A pair of great shoes can complete an outfit and gives you a dose of confidence and sexy allure.”
World famous shoe designer Jimmy Choo and model Matilda Rodgers show off a new design incorporating work by indigenous artist Peter Farmer; and (above), Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, and Cate Blanchett.