Sandra Choi, creative director of Jimmy Choo, on the brand’s 20th anniversary
Jimmy Choo is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. What has been the pivotal moment for the brand over these last two decades?
A key defining moment for me personally was opening our American stores — first in New York in 1998 quickly followed by Beverly Hills at the beginning of 1999. It set the tone for us becoming an international brand and laid the foundations for the future.
Why did you decide to do a capsule collection to celebrate the brand's anniversary?
In celebration of our 20th anniversary, I designed the Memento capsule collection as a tribute to the entrance-making moments that have come to define the Jimmy Choo style. The 20 shoes and bags of the collection honours our legacy of high glamour looks — many of which have been played out over the years on the red carpet. Reimagined and designed for today, the collection is intended to thrill and delight in equal measure. Looking back in our archives inspired me and sometimes you need to reference the past to look forward.
Out of the 20 shoes and bag designs of the collection, which piece do you feel is the "leading lady"?
Storm — a T-bar stiletto bejewelled with hand-sewn Swarovski crystals and stones in a smoky colour palette. Storm beguiles and mesmerises with its three-dimensional facets and mercurial crystal chrome finish. I also love the modern simplicity of Tizzy, a minimal strappy sandal.
Talk us through the limited-edition accessories trunk in celebration of the anniversary. What inspired you to launch the ultimate shoe closet?
The accessories trunk was inspired by a jewellery box. I really wanted to capture the idea of a treasure chest that's exceptionally luxurious and precious. I wanted it to be like a treasure trove filled with goodies and that could house all the accessories a woman could ever need. It's designed with compartments for shoes, jewellery, sunglasses and special evening bags. Details such as the pale galuchat embossed leather and distinctive hardware reflect elements from our collections.
When you stop to look back and reflect on the brand's 20-year journey, what has been the one consistent in the Jimmy Choo style?
We were one of the first designer brands for shoes and over time this has evolved to become a lifestyle brand covering women's and men's shoes alongside handbags, accessories and fragrance. However, shoes will always remain our backbone, heart and soul.
Jimmy Choo is a celebratory brand. It makes you feel good to wear something that is beautiful, exquisitely made and fun! We also have a global identity. We are a British brand based in London but we aren't defined by just that— which allows for a global customer to be able to identify with us.
The transformational power of shoes starts from an early age and as a brand I feel we embody that. We have been very fortunate to have support from the film and celebrity world from early on when we pioneered our relationship with the red carpet. It is precisely that fact that has helped to build the brand's global allure and radiance over the past 20 years.
The Lance has made the most red carpet appearances over the past 20 years. What makes it the most popular style for the red carpet and what is the secret to its success?
Lance has been worn the most times on the red carpet out of any of our styles. It is an enduring and timeless strappy sandal silhouette that flatters the foot, ankle and leg with its delicate double buckle closure — a design signature it's always been known for.
Why do you think women have such an emotional attachment to their shoes? Do you feel the same way?
I think every woman has a special relationship with shoes that starts from an early age, when you first realise the magical power shoes have to transform you both physically and emotionally. You try on your mother's heels and instantly feel grown up and taller and this continues on through adulthood. Shoes help you play a role and they transform a look. The strangest thing is, I can't remember my life by dates. I can only do it by visualising what shoes I was wearing at the time.
Name one hallmark moment in your career with Jimmy Choo that you'll never forget.
I have two: Meeting Michelle Obama at a reception at the White House for designers and representing Jimmy Choo at the V&A's Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition. Although to be honest, I always get such a thrill when I see someone on the streets wearing Jimmy Choos.
Let's play a round of quick fire questions: Sky-high heels or flats?
I love flats and wear them most days but I will always be a heels girl as I am short and need the extra height. My perfect heel height is 100mm and I can walk in that height all day and night.
Pleasure or pain?
Sexy and glamorous, or rebellious and androgynous?
It depends on the occasion. Most days, I am more rebellious and androgynous which I personally think can be sexy as well, but there are certain times that call for glamour.
Ballet flats or sneakers?
Classic or trendy?
Fashionable reinterpretations of classics.
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