Friday, December 14, 2007

Malaysia 2007: The Jimmy Choo Experience

Jimmy Choo and I

Met the one and only Jimmy Choo in our recent Malaysia trip where we were the delegates of the Philippine footwear industry invited to attend the Malaysian Footwear Showcase 2007. For those who don't know Jimmy Choo, here's his profile from wikipedia:

Dato' Jimmy Choo OBE, born Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat, is a London-based luxury fashion designer best known for his hand-made women's shoes. Jimmy Choo was co-founded by Simone Lindsey of Essex, and she now models the shoes full time.

Choo is a Malaysian of Hakka Chinese descent who was born in Penang in 1961 into a family of shoemakers. He made his first shoe when he was 11 years old, but managed only to complete six years of formal education at Shih Chung Primary School in Penang. He is perhaps the most famous of alumni of Cordwainers' Technical College in London, from which he graduated in 1983. The college is now part of the London College of Fashion. Choo has divulged that he worked part-time at restaurants and as a cleaner at a shoe factory to help fund his college education.

Choo's humble beginnings can be traced back to his workshop in Hackney, East London, which he opened in 1986 by renting an old hospital building. His craftsmanship and designs soon became noticed and he came to the verge of international fame when his creations were featured in a record eight pages in a 1988 issue of Vogue magazine. Patronage from Diana, Princess of Wales from 1990 onwards further boosted his image.

In 1996, he co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd with UK Vogue accessories editor Tamara Mellon.

In April 2001, Choo sold his 50% stake in the company for £10 million. He has since concentrated his work on the exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd. This is available, by appointment only, at Connaught Street off Oxford Street in London. The Jimmy Choo London line, also known as Jimmy Choo ready-to-wear or simply, Jimmy Choo, is now under the purview of Tamara Mellon and Sandra Choi. Choi, who was an apprentice under Choo, is the Creative Director at the company. She is the niece of Choo's wife Rebecca. The ready-to-wear line has expanded to include accessories such as handbags.

Choo now resides chiefly in London. He is involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in his country of birth Malaysia, where his iconic status is often evoked to inspire budding shoemakers and fashion designers.

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