Tamara Mellon, the genius behind JIMMY CHOO

Tamara Mellon

Tamara Mellon, founder and chief creative officer of Jimmy Choo, has recently been honored by Queen Elisabeth II being named Officer of the British Empire, in recognition of her contributions to the fashion industry. She is one of the few select invitees to the British Queen’s birthday. In a statement, Mellon expressed her delight at the accolade: “I am so thrilled to be receiving this great honour and to be recognized in this way. I am grateful to everyone at Jimmy Choo — and our customers around the globe — for helping make our success possible. While our brand has global reach, the roots and heritage of Jimmy Choo are uniquely British, so I am especially pleased and proud of this honour.”

Ms Mellon began her career at Phyllis Walters Public Relations and in 1990 she was hired by British Vogue as accessories editor. Recognizing the potential for development of high-end designer accessories, Mellon approached bespoke shoe-maker Mr Jimmy Choo with the idea of launching a ready-to-wear shoe company. As co-founder of the Jimmy Choo Company, Tamara secured funding from her father, for the creation of her business, and contracted with manufacturers in Northen Italy. By 2001, Jimmy Choo had over 100 wholesale clients including Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and the collections accounted for over 50% of the production of several of these factories. From the early days of her business, Ms Mellon has demonstrated an incredible sense of understanding the needs of modern women and how to market products into becoming instant trends.

Disagreements over creative direction and business strategy led to a split between Ms Mellon and Mr Choo. Mid 2001, Ms Mellon named Sandra Choi as creative director and Mr Choo’s wife’s niece to be on her side which later led to Mr Choo selling his 50% stake in the company for a low £10 million in 2001. Sandra Choi’s switch in loyalty had often been interpreted as a betrayal of her uncle’s trust.

The design collaboration between Tamara and creative director, Sandra Choi led to an immediate demand from other top stores. The Motcombe Street store was followed by stores in New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. In April 2001, the expansion of Jimmy Choo took a step forward with the announcement of a new partnership with Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. Acquiring Mr Choo’s share of the ready to wear business; Equinox’s Chief Executive Robert Bensoussan became CEO of Jimmy Choo. This transaction enabled Jimmy Choo to achieve outstanding results, with the introduction of handbag and small leather goods collections.

In November 2004, with the company valued at £101 million, Hicks Muse announced the majority acquisition of Jimmy Choo — yet another significant move for the future development of the company. In 2007, Ms Mellon was included on the Sunday Times Rich List where she was ranked as the 751st richest person in the U.K with an estimated wealth of £99 million. She is also ranked as the 64th richest woman in Britain.

One of the major breakthroughs was the Sex and The City tv series which had a definite contribution in establishing Jimmy Choo as a most desirable iconic shoe brands. Many top international celebrities have been wearing Jimmy Choo shoes on the red carpets of major events such as the Oscars.