The famed designer on her new line, shak­ing up the luxury mar­ket, and life af­ter Jimmy Choo.

Real Style - - Real Style Contents - By: Heidi Hof­s­tad

The for­mer Jimmy Choo designer shakes up the luxury mar­ket.

As the co-founder and face

of Jimmy Choo, Ta­mara Mel­lon se­cured a spot for the luxury ac­ces­sories brand on red car­pets and in pop cul­ture his­tory (col­lect­ing fash­ion cred­its for cos­tume ap­pear­ances on HBO’s Sex and the City) be­fore de­part­ing the com­pany af­ter 15 years, in 2011. Re­leas­ing her mem­oir, In My Shoes, in 2013, and launch­ing her epony­mous line— cov­eted by celebri­ties and the fash­ion set alike (in­sert ma­jor closet envy here)—Mel­lon, it seems, is tak­ing the cake, as she pre­pares to blow out the can­dles and cel­e­brate her 48th birth­day in July.

“It’s been so much fun to start some­thing from scratch again,” says Mel­lon of reach­ing her cur­rent cre­ative des­ti­na­tion. “Ob­vi­ously, my his­tory is in shoes and bags, but I had a vi­sion for readyto-wear for a long time—even when I was at Jimmy Choo. To be able to ex­e­cute that was re­ally great.”

From flirty suede-fringed rompers (fring­ing is a sig­na­ture de­sign el­e­ment through­out the line) and tai­lored denim pieces with cutouts and stud de­tail­ing, to lust-wor­thy sil­ver lamé pantsuits, hand­bags, ac­ces­sories and shoes, the pieces re­flect Mel­lon’s own style—so­phis­ti­cated, but with an edge. “There’s al­ways that tug-of-war be­tween cre­ativ­ity and com­merce. You look at your busi­ness as a pyra­mid. The top of the pyra­mid is the real fash­ion pieces that set the halo around the brand, and the pieces we all dream about. But then there’s nor­mal life, so you try to take the same con­cept or idea and dis­till it down into some­thing that we can wear ev­ery day,” she says. Hav­ing at­tracted the likes of Bey­oncé, Kar­lie Kloss, Chrissy Teigen, Ni­cole Richie, and Ken­dall Jen­ner in one fell swoop with her lux­u­ri­ous of­fer­ings, Mel­lon is now not only adorn­ing the feet (her leg­ging boots are al­ready iconic) but also the bod­ies of Hol­ly­wood’s It girls.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally in­no­va­tive, as a designer, Mel­lon has built her name­sake brand on a “buy now, wear now” busi­ness model. This sea­son­less fash­ion strat­egy means she ig­nores the Fash­ion Week con­ven­tion of show­ing sum­mer clothes in win­ter and vice versa, in­stead re­leas­ing pieces when they are of-the-mo­ment to the wearer. “The fash­ion cal­en­dar is so out of sync with the mod­ern day cus­tomer. We don’t want to buy our spring/sum­mer clothes in Jan­uary/Fe­bru­ary and our win­ter coats in July,” Mel­lon ex­plains. “I’m of­fer­ing fash­ion con­cepts that come in monthly, so that you can buy to­day and wear to­mor­row.”

Could this be the fu­ture of the luxury mar­ket? Other power play­ers – from top run­way de­sign­ers to those with front row sta­tus – don’t seem to mind Mel­lon break­ing with tra­di­tion to #dis­rupt­fash­ion (also one of the cheeky hash­tags she ties to her Instagram posts @tama­ramel­lon) with a more re­laxed ap­proach. “There are a lot of great women in the in­dus­try. Anna Win­tour has given

her in­valu­able in­put on the cre­ativ­ity of the col­lec­tion. Diane von Fursten­berg has been so sup­port­ive of women's em­pow­er­ment. Tory Burch has cer­tainly been a great sound­ing board for busi­ness ad­vice. Ac­tu­ally, we all re­ally want to see each other do well,” Mel­lon says, of be­ing among a su­per­chic and sup­port­ive sis­ter­hood.

Off-duty, keep­ing Mel­lon in check is daugh­ter Aram­inta, 13, whom she af­fec­tion­ately refers to as Minty. “We ac­tu­ally call her the young ex­ec­u­tive. She tells me that I spend too much money and that I shouldn’t be do­ing this or that,” Mel­lon says, laugh­ing. “She has a great busi­ness mind—I can see it al­ready. Math is her favourite sub­ject…she’s very good with num­bers.” The mother-daugh­ter duo re­sides in New York City, af­ter cross­ing the pond from Lon­don, so that Minty can grow up closer to her fa­ther.

“The book was such a good way to close one chap­ter of my life and move on to the next.”

In her mem­oir, Mel­lon goes from meet­ing Jimmy Choo at his shoe shop in Lon­don’s East End as an Ac­ces­sories Edi­tor at Bri­tish Vogue, to co­found­ing the shoe com­pany with seed money from her fa­ther. “Leav­ing Jimmy Choo was a big mo­ment. But some­times the fear of do­ing some­thing seems worse, and then when you ac­tu­ally do it, you think, ‘That wasn’t that bad,’” says Mel­lon. Hav­ing signed a non-com­pete con­tract for the year fol­low­ing her de­par­ture, Mel­lon oc­cu­pied her time pen­ning In My Shoes.

The book re­veals Mel­lon as the cre­ative force be­hind the brand—sketch­ing the shoes and run­ning the busi­ness. (Ac­cord­ing to Mel­lon, as a cob­bler, Choo could make the shoes, but was not de­sign-savvy.) Dur­ing Mel­lon’s time at the helm, Jimmy Choo grew from a sin­gle Lon­don Bou­tique to over 145 stores across the globe. Choo left the brand in 2001, sell­ing his shares to a pri­vate eq­uity com­pany. Through­out the read, Mel­lon doesn’t mince words about her dis­taste for the in­volve­ment of pri­vate eq­uity in fash­ion, her bat­tles with al­co­hol and drug abuse, the rocky mar­riage and even­tual di­vorce from ex-hus­band Matthew Mel­lon, and her tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship with her mother. If drama makes for the best con­tent, Mel­lon has def­i­nitely seen her share. As the well-heeled hero­ine, Mel­lon charges through, experiencing per­sonal tri­umphs such as her ap­point­ment to the Revlon Board, be­ing named Am­bas­sador for In­ter­na­tional Trade by then Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, re­ceiv­ing the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire from Queen El­iz­a­beth II for ser­vice to the fash­ion in­dus­try, and rais­ing mil­lions in her work with El­ton John’s AIDS Foun­da­tion to help build rape shel­ters across South Africa.

“The book was such a good way to close one chap­ter of my life and move on to the next. I de­cided that I wasn’t go­ing to sug­ar­coat any­thing—I was go­ing to give the hon­est truth of how it was,” she re­flects. “I felt that telling my au­then­tic story would res­onate with women more than if I tried to make it all glossy and fab­u­lous.”

It’s dif­fi­cult not to ad­mire Mel­lon’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, busi­ness savvy, tenac­ity, in­de­pen­dence and self-con­fi­dence. Ex­pand­ing her brand to in­cor­po­rate ev­ery­thing from sun­glasses and swimwear to cos­met­ics, fragrance and home dé­cor is in Mel­lon’s line of sight. But a life­style-based reach shouldn’t come as a sur­prise when it comes to the am­bi­tious tastemaker: Her ca­reer is al­ready a le­gacy, where no­body puts Ta­mara in the cor­ner. “De­sign­ers go wrong when they take on too many dif­fer­ent opin­ions. The most im­por­tant thing is to know who you are, and stick true to your vi­sion. Peo­ple will like it or they won’t.” In Mel­lon’s case, it seems, they just can’t help them­selves. What’s not to love?


Clock­wise from top: Bey­once wear­ing Ta­mara Mel­lon, Ta­mara Mel­lon - Leg­ging Boots, Kar­lie Kloss wear­ing Ta­mara Mel­lon - Leg­ging Boots, Instagram im­age of Ta­mara Mel­lom and daugh­ter 'Minty', Look 22 from Ta­mara's prefall 2015 col­lec­tion, 'In My Shoes', Look 19 from Ta­mara's prefall 2015 col­lec­tion, Jimmy Choo logo.

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