For more than 25 years, Jimmy Choo has been synonymous with sexy, strappy stilettos. Here, creative director Sandra Choi expands on why the brand is so much more
"What's interesting about fashion right now is how it has come full circle, with the '90s and early '00s style references resurfacing," Jimmy Choo's creative director Sandra Choi muses. Having spent her entire career at Jimmy Choo – the accessory brand renowned for its glamorous footwear, founded by her uncle in 1996 – she is intimately acquainted with the changing sartorial landscape. "Trends tend to follow a 20 to 30 year cycle, and seeing that style comeback and how the new generation interpret it is quite inspiring," she continues. For example, she points to a minimal sandal with a 'Jimmy Choo' branded metal bar of the toe strap introduced in the late '90s and rereleased for autumn/winter 2022, saying "it feels fresh, modern and so right for now."
Commenting that "digital and social media have evolved how we communicate," Choi pinpoints how the relationship between pop culture, celebrity and fashion has been amplified by social media, but it is not always governed by the fashion house. "I am interested in seeing how people put things together, and I now see my 12-year-old daughter experimenting with my clothes and finding her own style," she says. She believes that being a modern designer requires a certain level of intuition, with brands taking heed of what is happening worldwide.
Ever since Carrie Bradshaw was first captured on screen sporting impossibly high stilettos (cobblestones and subway grates be damned), Jimmy Choo has been synonymous with Sex and The City. "That show was a phenomenon, and we were part of that conversation," says Choi of the experience. "It firmly put us on the global fashion stage." Moreover, it captured the cultural zeitgeist, catapulting the brand into overnight success as the iconic character uttered the simple line "I lost my Choo!" while running for the Staten Island ferry at the turn of the millennium.
Sex and The City' has maintained its influence to invest in a pair of Jimmy Choos long after the early '00s. And while they're adored by the masses, Choi pinpoints the brand's heeled pumps as its most underrated shoe, with good reason: "The detail of the architecture and cut is so specific," she says. "I treat it like tailoring to make each of our pump families unique. No decoration, just an incredible silhouette that's timeless and versatile."
The creative director applies this same sculptural detail when designing the brand's handbags. "The handbags often translate codes from the shoes in the collection, especially when it comes to the evening bags," explains Choi. "It could be the material, the hardware or a colour palette." First launched in 2004, Choi always envisioned Jimmy Choo as an accessory brand. "Yes, we started with the shoes but now have other accessories that can be paired with them, or standalone." For the creative director, every aspect must be in proportion, and every element must be considered when designing a bag. "It's very important for me," she says. "The sensation and the sensibility of handling are key. How a bag interacts with your body must be considered."
The new quilted Varenne Avenue handbag.
The latest addition to the Jimmy Choo family is the quilted Varenne Avenue handbag, launched this month. "We wanted to add texture and tactile softness to the structured silhouette of the bag." Dressed in the new matelassé, the quilted linear pattern is inspired by "the avenues we navigate daily dreaming with every step of arriving somewhere full of wonder." The Varenne Avenue line was the first to showcase the JC monogram in the autumn of 2019. It caters to those who look for simplicity and versatility, introducing them to a timeless silhouette now spanning clutch and shoulder, tote to cross body.
According to Choi, the Varenne Avenue bags "reflects our growth into a lifestyle house." It marks a brand in motion. "We have already evolved from being defined as a shoe brand to now encompassing a full accessories brand," Choi says. The brand's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for innovation and collaboration combined with the fast-moving developments in the digital world mean Choi never knows what might be around the corner. "That is what keeps me so inspired to do this job."