An Interview with Dato’ Jimmy Choo!

It’s 2001 and an awkward fourteen-year-old girl walks into the Eurostar departure lounge with her father. Picking up a copy of Vogue, she flicks through the glossy pages of pristine fashion models before pausing on page 57. A slim, tanned, blonde model, oversized tortoiseshell sunglasses and the most beautiful champagne stilettos. The name on the page, Jimmy Choo. Her eyes linger on the intricate detail of the shoe. ‘One day,’ she whispers to herself.

It’s 2006 and a frivolous student walks past a small boutique with her friends. She peers through the glass window and her eyes fall upon a pair of beautiful black stilettos. Admiring the delicate sling backs adorned with Swarovski crystals she smiles to herself and tells her friends confidently, ‘One day I’ll wear Jimmy Choos.’

Today 2011, a young journalist stands nervously at the entrance of the Jimmy Choo Couture store in Connaught Street and takes a deep breath, desperately trying to steady her nerves. I breathe in once more as the door opens and I am ushered into the small boutique. Surrounded by stylists, models, photographers and designers, I immediately notice Dato’ Jimmy Choo OBE himself (Dato is a high Malay state title). I’m still mesmerised when he takes a seat beside me and casually enquires about the iPad which I’m tensely gripping onto. I answer his questions and within minutes my nerves have disappeared and it’s as though we are old friends.

Jimmy Choo interview

There’s something incredibly awe-inspiring about the impressive Dato’ Jimmy Choo and his relaxed easy manner. He tells me about the importance of helping new designers, ‘I recently came back from Stockholm. I was invited by His Majesty the King of Sweden as an ambassador for the World Scout Foundation which was a great privilege. I devote a lot of time to helping young students.’

In my workshop we train a lot of students from various universities; including the London School of Fashion [Jimmy was a student of the London School of Fashion and was one of the first designers to receive a fellowship from the University of Arts]. I often bring them to Malaysia to work with local designers and get more practical experience. Often, they have the creative ideas but they lack the skill. Like me, I can create a lot of things but if I had no skill I wouldn’t be here today.’

Having sold the Jimmy Choo business ten years ago to the financial group, Dato’ Jimmy Choo focuses now on his couture label. He made shoes for Princess Diana for many years and continues to design bespoke heels for top actresses and celebrities as well as Michelle Obama and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who wore Jimmy Choos, as they have become known, for Prince William and Catherine’s Royal Wedding.

Couture is very different to prêt-a-porter. The shoes here are made to fit perfectly so when customers come here to order shoes, we fit them nicely and make sure we give them exactly what they want, whether it’s a four-inch heel or a two-inch heel. The shoe must feel special and ‘belong’ to the customer and there aren’t many places in the UK which offer that service.

I notice several cards and photos around the boutique which have been sent to Jimmy from customers and brides worldwide thanking him for the excellent service and for bringing that magical feeling to their special occasion.

Jimmy started making shoes in his father’s factory in Malaysia at the age of 11 and I ask him whether he enjoyed the shoe-making trade even then when he was working such long hours,

Definitely! You have to love it. If I hadn’t enjoyed it then I wouldn’t be here today. Young people now, they don’t want to work hard. I think that’s good and bad as in the old days we worked too much, day and night, but I don’t want my children to work so hard. They work but I think they should also be free and enjoy life whilst they are young and at university.

As our interview comes to an end, I am invited to join Jimmy and the fashion shoot team for lunch. We head out toMaximini, the restaurant which he co-owns in Lancaster Gate, to enjoy some of the finest Asian food and yet again I have to pinch myself when Dato’ Jimmy Choo OBE picks up a bowl of noodles to serve me. Here I am sitting with one of the world’s most iconic shoe designers and I feel totally at home!

20111110-173642.jpg

I return to the Jimmy Choo Couture boutique in Connaught Street a few weeks later to purchase my very first pair of Jimmy Choo Couture shoes, fulfilling the promise I made to myself ten years earlier. A woman steps out with four pairs, an investment she says. Overwhelmed not only by the quality of the shoe itself, the softness of the leather and the satin detail, but by the whole persona and his simple message to me that ‘in doing good things you will gain people’s respect.’ I feel motivated to succeed. ‘One day,’ I whisper to myself.

Truly you would be hard-pressed to find a more grounded, generous man than this incredibly talented and kind-hearted couturier. Professor Jimmy Choo doesn’t just create shoes, he creates a dream to have you walking on a cloud.

My shoes are on a shelf in my room, I am on a cloud, I may never put them on the ground!

Share

Leave a Comment:

*

Add To Your Blog/Site