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Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Jimmy Choo

8th October, 2017

His name is synonymous with one of the most renowned designer shoe brands in the world so it should come as no surprise that for Jimmy Choo, creating footwear runs in the blood. As the son of a shoe maker he learned the craft from his father in Malaysia, before moving to England in the 1980s to undertake formal study at the London College of Fashion. He opened his first shop in Hackney in 1986 and eventually co-founded the Jimmy Choo shoe label with British Vogue’s Tamara Mellon who had worked with Choo on the magazine.

After a successful career at the label that included being appointed official shoemaker to Princess Diana and opening stores in New York, Milan and Paris he stepped down from the brand in 2001. Today he is an Ambassador for Footwear Education at the London College of Fashion, is the recipient of an OBE for services to the British fashion industry and is preparing to launch a capsule shoe collection under his Chinese name Zhou Yang Jie. I caught up with Choo during his inaugural visit to Sydney with American Express to chat about the secret to his success, what he does for fun and if he ever finds himself visiting a Jimmy Choo store…

 

Where did your love of shoes come from? 

I was born in Malaysia and my father is a shoe designer. So, when I was young I saw my father making shoes. After I finished school, I would finish my homework, then help my dad learning the skill.

So many celebrities have worn your shoes over the years. Is there a person who stands out in your mind?

I have to say thanks to the late Princess Diana. Because I had been working with her for seven years, and now this year is the 20th-year anniversary of her passing and all over the world people still remember her and what she did for the legacy. She did a lot of charity events. Not many people do that.

What was it like to create shoes for the late Princess Diana?

She would call me to Kensington Palace to show me all the garments and everything that she was going to wear as she traveled all over the world. So we would look at all the garments and we would match the shoes for her. She was a very nice, very kind person.

What do you believe is the secret to your success?

When people say to me, “You are [a] successful person”, to me it’s not yet. I’m not successful yet. Because growing up my father always said, “One day you still alive, you don’t know what happened yourself”. People can seem [successful] and suddenly disappear, you know… we must, continue to learn all the time. So I’m not [successful] because I’m still learning.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I think, patience is very important. If you have no patience, you’ve lost everything. Because you need to talk to people. Communication is very important.

And what advice do you give to up-and-coming designers?

They still have to have patience. Every time [you] see something new, you mustn’t lose [your] temper and keep your mind open. Also always [ask yourself] what’s the next fashion? If you don’t sell, you must find out why it isn’t selling.

Why are you so passionate about the art of making shoes?

I love designing shoes, I love shoes. Sometimes when I go to factories, or one of my students comes [to me] with some idea [for] shoes, I would start to tear. True, true. You know, some of them are very beautiful and they take a lot of time, the detail and the design.

Although you are not involved in the company anymore. You must feel very proud that the Jimmy Choo brand you created is doing so well all these years later.

Yes I feel very proud. They’re all doing very well. I congratulate them, I wish them doing better and better.

Do you ever go into the stores?

No, I don’t do that. I don’t go in the shop. I never went into the shop. Because I think soul is soul, you wish them the best; you do what you want to do.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

For the people, who surround me and take care of me [day to day], I like [to] say thanks to them, I like to organise a holiday for them. I think it’s very important, you know, they are working with me day and night, traveling with me, they haven’t got time for their children and family. So I like to organise so they can go on holiday together. Or I like to invite them to my house. We cook and I love music so I listen to music… Elvis is my favourite.

If you had never gone down this career path of making shoes, what would you be doing?

I would like to be a healer and heal people. You know in London, they have a healing school. You can learn how to heal people with your hands. If you feel pain. They lay a hand on you and you heal them with your energy.

What has been your biggest career highlight?

I would say I’m very grateful to my country. A nine-year-old student, they can see my history in the textbook. Money cannot buy [that]. [Influential] people pass away, and then they talk about them. But I’m still alive.  Thanks to my country and the education minister, the leader allowed my history in a textbook for all the young children to learn as part of their education.

BITE SIZE
WE WENT TO American Express events at Café del Mar, Cockle Bay Wharf.
WE ATE market fish.
WE DRANK Sparkling water.
Lifestyle

A chat with Tutu du Monde’s Andrea Rembeck

7th March, 2017

Sophia and her cousin Rose wearing Tutu Du Monde

Andrea Rembeck is the Sydney-based designer behind the stunning children’s label Tutu Du Monde. Her whimsical tutu designs are my go-to when I’m looking for something special for the girls to wear. Here, I chat to Andrea about her tricks to balancing work and motherhood, what is on her bucket list and the best advice she has ever received.

What is a day in the life of you?I usually start the day either running or swimming at Bondi so I feel like I’ve had a life before I hit the office. No one day is the same at work. However, we generally start the week off with a team meeting where we map out the week ahead, and then I’m often on the phone or emailing partners in the US before they go to sleep. We have a rather large network of photographers, magazines, stylists and celebrities abroad, so I invest a lot of time making sure we’re working harmoniously together.  We have 3 main collections per year, and so we’re pretty much always working on designing, smaller capsule collections and collaborations with retailers or other like-minded- brands. Ideally, I try to find some creative time every day but sometimes it falls by the wayside due to so many other business or PR related obligations. Apart from the creative, I have to steer the business as well and oversee all aspects of it.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Inspiration is rarely the problem, more often it’s the lack of time that’s the challenge. The creative process often starts with travel and scouring vintage stores and markets all over the world in the search for beautiful, timeless pieces with exquisite craftsmanship, which ultimately provide inspiration for my tutus. Once the collection has been designed and sketched I hop on a plane to India and spend a week or two in the workshop sitting with the artisans to transform my ideas and sketches into reality. It’s such a beautiful experience sitting with the beautiful women and seeing ideas take shape.

One of the gorgeous Tutu Du Monde tutus hanging at home

How did you start your business?

Upon the birth of my daughter Alyna, I took some time out to enjoy being a mother. When Alyna turned three and was able to voice her opinion she refused to wear anything non-girly and asked for tutu. I embarked on a quest to find one that was not mass-produced, hot pink and polyester. I couldn’t find anything made from natural materials, cottons and silks – that’s how Tutu du Monde was born, in 2009.

Who do you admire the most?

Successful women in business who follow their vision with passion and kindness whilst trying to keep balance in life such as Zena who is founder of House of K’Dor who keeps a busy schedule and an amazing mother.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Prioritise, don’t sweat the small stuff, cut out the noise and the unimportant. But most of all be true to yourself and have a clear vision.

As a mother, what is your trick to multitasking?

Thank fully my husband and daughter are very supportive, and I like to compartmentalise my day. When I’m with the family, I’m 100 per cent present and don’t compromise my time with them thinking about work. And then when I’m at work, I focus on managing the team and the tasks at hand. My days are very full, so structure with my great team help!

What is top of your bucket list?

Sumba (Island in Indonesia), Bhutan and Iceland

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood, J.K. Rowling, Grace Coddington, Elon Musk, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tim Walker, Arianna Huffington and Gwyneth Paltrow.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would love to rewind and re-live our recent campaign shoot in Palm Springs, California in early June 2016. I think I was so overwhelmed and excited that I didn’t soak everything in.

Every time I reflect on this campaign I get goosebumps (strange considering we were in the depths of the desert). Tutu du Monde took a departure from its signature campaign style to the wild allure of the desert to shoot on location. We were Californian dreaming… carefree, spirited and West Coast cool, and had girls fly and drive in for miles from every part of the States, eager to shine their light and become a Tutu Du Monde model.

The cast and crew drove off the beaten track to parched Californian roads; palm trees, cactus and dusty rocks decorated the landscape. The ground was so dry it cracked under our feet.

There was something so special about watching sequins dim in the dreamy desert light when the sun went down. And well I guess you could say I personally had a moment. It gave me goose bumps- a feeling of achievement where I looked around the room and saw a collection of internationally recognised and fabulous people who had come together to bring this vision we had only weeks ago authentically come to life in the genuine surrounds of the sands.

I’d love to go back except maybe at a slightly cooler time of year.

What is the favourite fashion piece you own?

An amazing white beaded vintage dress from the sixties with ostrich feathers down the sides that I bought some years ago in New York. I’m still waiting for the right occasion to wear it, it’s rather opulent.

Which has been your favourite Tutu du Monde piece?

I love the Cosmic Dust Cape in Cloud and Mink which is collared with playful pom poms and provides a theatrical statement about being spirited, carefree, and cool. It’s part of the new Desert Daze collection and is pure Hollywood glamour. But there are a few pieces in the Secret Garden Baby Collection (to launch in August) that I just love! Including a little dress perfect for [my daughter] Grace. It’s peppermint and features sequinned organza petals embellishing on the bodice and an intricately pleated four-tier ruffle. The whole collection is a tale of wondrous adventure.

What do you like to indulge on?

Tiramisu (occasionally).

What is your favourite room in the house?

We love being outdoors and having people over to our home. The entertainment area is an extension of the kitchen, opens all up and helps bring the outdoors in. We just added super comfortable and stylish oversized beanbags for slouching around. I love foliage and have an assortment of pot plants and succulents in the courtyard- a stunning shell beaded chandelier also decorates the frangipani tree. It’s very mid century-boho-chic. It’s our private oasis.

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Photography: @hayleysparksphotography