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Jimmy Choo’s New Made-to-order ‘Couture’ Styles Rise to the Level of Art

LONDON — Jimmy Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi works and designs like her established counterparts in the industry: she hides in nature to escape from the glamour of the fashion world, and she still sketches every accessory — which is evident with a quick scroll of her Instagram page.

She’s now sharing her love for florals and botanicals with the world in a collaboration with the Parisian embroidery house Les Ateliers Vermont, famed for working with more than half of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brands.

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“About a year ago, when we were in the middle of developing the Jean Paul Gaultier collaboration, it’s when the idea came to me to focus on a part of the brand that people might not see: the fancy decorative and textured pieces,” she said in an interview, explaining that this is the brand’s couture proposition and it’s only available through Jimmy Choo’s made-to-order arm.

The London shoe from Jimmy Choo's The Flower Series collection.
The London shoe from Jimmy Choo’s The Flower Series collection.

The collection celebrates 10 of Choi’s favorite cities with 10 matching shoes in the style of platform heels, slingbacks, block heels and stilettos. Meanwhile, the handbags are in the brand’s Bon Bon style, a wink to each city’s natural landscapes.

The cities include Dubai, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo.

“I wanted to marry the flowers with travel, which is something I love and I always jam together different ideas [for any collection],” said Choi.

In Jimmy Choo’s Christmas collection last year, the designer metalized flowers onto the shoes, but this time the flowers take more of an emotional and delicate turn.

The London bag from Jimmy Choo's The Flower Series collection.
The London bag from Jimmy Choo’s The Flower Series collection.

She described entering the embroidery house of Les Ateliers Vermont the same way as a child entering a sweet shop, where behind every single jar was a new discovery.

The London pair is adorned in bubblegum pink using a matching tulle fabric to recreate the shape of a peony, while the rest of the shoe is decorated with pink beads and small shiny sequins that are reminiscent of the colorful doors found in Notting Hill.

The Tokyo set is also pink, representing the pink sakura, or cherry blossom, of Japan, which have been embroidered using thin slices of mother of pearl.

Choi fused an emerald green with gold for the Dubai set.

The Paris bag from Jimmy Choo's The Flower Series collection.
An illustration of the Paris bag from Jimmy Choo’s The Flower Series collection.

“The gold represents the sun, the warmth and the sand. I grew up in Hong Kong, then I lived in the Isle of Wight, but somewhere in the middle of the world, Dubai is there and it’s glorious; that’s how I interpret the green, gold and sequins,” said the designer.

Her personal favorite from the collection is the Paris set for its “twisted way of dealing with beauty,” she said. The shoe and bag are set on a smoky blue silk with a few clear gemstones and black beads that replicate the handiwork of an artist sketching.

“Paris means avant-garde and it’s about the craft. I wanted to flip the embroidery to show the inside, which nobody cares about normally, but I do. I always look at the back of anything and put them in the front,” she said.

Choi’s work in the Jimmy Choo studios started when she was working on couture shoes for her uncle, who founded the company with that focus. She credits that period of her career as a formative moment — it’s where she learned how to use fabrics, textures and finishes to come up with beautiful shoes.

The Paris shoe from Jimmy Choo's The Flower Series collection.
The Paris shoe from Jimmy Choo’s The Flower Series collection.

Every designer she has encountered along the way and collaborated with, from the late Virgil Abloh to Marine Serre, have all spoken to her about vintage Jimmy Choo shoes.

At London Fashion Week, Choi worked with the young American designer Conner Ives for the second time for his fall 2024 collection based on American debutante balls and Truman Capote’s Swans.

The collaboration was inspired by Jimmy Choo archival shapes, which included a knee-high boot, kitten-heeled mule and slipper. The shoes came in chocolate brown lizard-embossed calfskin and a satin effect calfskin with hand-painted roses by artist Rosie Mennem.

On and off the runway, Choi is talkative and witty, whether she’s describing footwear or her holiday plans.

During awards season, it’s hard to ignore the red carpet without at least 11 sightings of a pair of Jimmy Choos, from Anya Taylor-Joy, Emily Blunt, and Charli XCX to Taylor Russell. “It’s a thriving business,” said Choi, who admits she’s always flattered that the stars choose her designs to wear.

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