Yes, you read me right. Datuk Jimmy Choo cobbler not shoe designer. This shocking and shameful remark is by Tamara Mellon, the former Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of the luxury brand Jimmy Choo.
She used to be a co-business partner with Malaysian-born Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat.
Datuk Jimmy Choo Cobbler Not Shoe Designer
Mellon dropped the bombshell in the TODAY show back in 2013.
This 47-year old British lady went on to say that she never received one single sketch from Datuk Jimmy Choo during the years they worked together.
Mellon clarified that she was unaware of Mr Choo’s lack of designing knowledge, when they teamed up to start the brand together.
It was later, then only it dawned on her that Jimmy Choo only has skill in making shoes, and not designing them. In short, Choo Yeang Keat is just a cobbler and not a shoe designer!
As a Malaysian, I was both shocked and saddened by Mellon’s revelation. “Sure or not?”, as my equally shell-shocked friend asked me with eyes wide-open.
To many Malaysians, he is a top favorite icon and inspiration. And they
To find out more, the other day, I read her book, “In Her Shoes: A Memoir“.
Note: By the way, you can get this book over at BookXcess (Fahrenheit 88 shopping mall, Kuala Lumpur) for only RM 17.50.
Here are some excerpts from her memoir:
This is when it dawned on me that Jimmy was a cobbler, and he really had no interest in becoming a designer. I had set up a business with a “creative head” who, in fact, had no creativity.
The few times that Jimmy had anything to say about design, it was with a complaint that I was making the heels too high or in some other way violating the cordwainers’ code.
We also bought some shoes from a factory and sewed in the Jimmy Choo label.
I think he’d assumed he could get her (Sandra Choi) to do all the work for the Jimmy Choo brand and that people would still see the design as having come from him.
As for the fact that Sandra and I were, in fact, designing the collection, he responded, “Anyone can sketch a shoe.”
We’d blown his cover by letting the press in on the fact that he had nothing to do with designing our collections.
Jimmy’s only concern was to have a famous feng shui master bless the enterprise. So we paid to fly this guy over from Malaysia and put him up in a smart hotel. Then we went with him to the shop at midnight and sat in a circle and went through some sort of chanting ritual. He put a Chinese symbol on the mirror, rearranged the cash register so that the money wouldn’t “fly out of the store,” and that was that.
On the flight back, after the meal had been served, I noticed Jimmy packing up all the food and everything else on the plastic tray—including the tray itself—to take home. Later, when we went through customs, they asked him to open his bag, and rolls upon rolls of toilet paper came flying out.
He’d stolen all the paper and the soap and everything else he could grab from the hotel and stuffed it into his bag. It wasn’t even a nice hotel we’d been staying in. I pretended not to notice and simply walked on through.
In truth, my confidence in Jimmy was beginning to falter, not just because of his lack of sophistication but because of his lack of knowledge about shoe manufacturing.
Jimmy always wanted to share with Sandra, and when he didn’t get to, he would sit in the meetings at the factories and sulk and make rude, off-the-wall comments. His strange behavior was very obvious to the Italians and very embarrassing to the rest of us.
When he came to monthly board meetings, he always brought his attorney, and then he’d have nothing to say. Adding insult to injury, he began to complain to his couture clients. “They stole my name. They’re ripping me off.” These were the phrases that got back to us. Somehow he failed to remember that we had licensed his name. In 2001, we bought it outright.
There are many more unflattering stories about Datuk Jimmy Choo (the person) in the book.
If I am not mistaken there is still no Malaysia media who has an in-depth interview with our Malaysian Datuk’ Jimmy Choo about what Tamara Mellon wrote in her memoir “In Her Shoes“.
So far I have only read one article mentioned about this book in the Star by June Wong. Her’s scribe is focusing more on Mellon’s personal messy life.
Instead she went on praising Jimmy being a very kind man, caring and generous to friends. And even labelled Mellon as “Ms Sour Grapes”.
Well, personally I do not know both them (Jimmy Choo and Tamara Mellon), so I ‘m still unsure whether what Mellon wrote in her memoir is true or otherwise.
Mr. Jimmy Choo himself have never denied her remarks.
He told the Star writer that he still hadn’t seen the book and had no interest doing so. He added, “It’s the same old story from her”.
All this time, I don’t read anything about this Malaysian-Chinese descent shoemaker Datuk hob nobbling with the whos-who of the international fashion world.
But instead, he is very active and prominent in the Malaysian scene. He has appeared in almost every local dailies, magazines and TV shows. In addition, he has graced many well-known and important functions and events.
I think he is still the Malaysia tourism ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Last year (2014), STAR Development appointed him as its ambassador.
Recently he was seen at the launching of the #AnakAnakMalaysia campaign held at EcoWorld International Centre in Mid Valley City.
Whatever it is, Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat is certainly a role model for aspiring Malaysian shoemakers and also fashion designers.
Personally, I think it’s time Datuk OBE Jimmy Choo should come out a book of his own, and tell the world his side of the story.