SANDRA CHOI

Jimmy Choo’s Creative Director

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Dedicated to create beautiful things, Sandra Choi felt right at home when her career path led her to product design and fashion; a combination of both of her best worlds

Tell us a little bit about yourself, what would you want the world to know about Sandra Choi?

I am the Creative Director of Jimmy Choo, I have worked at Jimmy Choo my whole career from when the brand began in 1996. This year marks our 20th Anniversary, I can’t believe 20 years have gone by so quickly and at the same time I can’t believe how much we have achieved in a relatively short amount of time. Out of work I am a mother to two girls and I live in Battersea, London and try to escape to our house in the English countryside at weekends.

You went to Central Saint Martins and studied Fashion Design; in what ways did that boost your way into the world of fashion?

It was accidental. I had moved from the Isle of Wight to London and was living with my aunt and uncle, Jimmy whilst studying my A levels. All I wanted to do was get into Central St Martin’s as other great fashion designers had done before me. When I was on my art foundation course my tutor said I had a talent for product design, I then begun my fashion degree and my heart was set on working in fashion. At the same time I was spending more and more time at the studio as I was fascinated by the shoe business. It was serendipity that the path I ended up choosing combined the best of both worlds – product design and fashion.

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What do you look back on as being a turning point on the road to becoming Creative Director?

I was responsible for designing the seasonal fashion collections from the beginning,  I have been with Jimmy Choo my entire working life, it has become second nature and it is part of who I am. When the company transitioned in 2013 my role evolved to leading the creative design process across all product categories as well as the brand image whilst being a public spokesperson for the brand, it is something I am learning to balance, I feel immensely proud of my role.

How do you maintain the vision of Jimmy Choo across the creative outlets available? 

It is important to respect our core personality whilst gently evolving our fashion collections. We are committed to creating the highest quality pieces with our manufacturing based in Italy. Heels will always be at the core of the Jimmy Choo brand and our affinity with the Red Carpet continues to reinforce our heritage in creating beautiful and glamorous shoes for the big entrance making moments in life. However, Jimmy Choo is like a precious jewel, we are multi-faceted and are also committed to innovating our design and creating modern fashion pieces.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 9: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the BAFTA "Brits to Watch" event held at the Belasco Theatre on July 9, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Baron-Pool/Getty Images)

Why do you think Jimmy Choo is the shoe of choice for the most glamorous events such as the Red Carpet? 

The Red Carpet calls for designs that are graceful, elegant and timeless. The pictures stay with us for decades.

We realised this early on when we went to LA for the first time to host our now “annual Oscar’s suite” where stylists and celebrities come to choose their shoes and bags. The reaction was so positive that we now create a dedicated Awards season collection each year catering to the specific needs of those fairytale entrance making moments.

Sex and The City was one of the biggest moments for Jimmy Choo, what exactly was the scale of its impact in terms of notability and branding? 

There is no denying that it was one of the defining moments in making the brand a global name. It reinforced the emotional connection women have with their shoes, the power they have to transform both physically and emotionally, the confidence they can give you. Combined with our success on the red carpet it played a key role in establishing Jimmy Choo as a global brand.

How do you keep Jimmy Choo fresh from a creative perspective?

Innovation and evolving our collections. Each collection will have a theme, there will be high fashion interpretations to tell the story as well easier to wear pieces that illustrate elements of the seasonal theme. We just introduced a new signature stiletto pump to the collection. The difference may seem small but the slightly chiseled toe offers a softer point and the angled heel the illusion of additional height.  HENNI 100- SUEDE PALM PRINT LEATHER- MALIBU BUTTERCUP CORAL PINK

How do you keep Jimmy Choo fresh from a creative perspective?

Innovation and evolving our collections. Each collection will have a theme, there will be high fashion interpretations to tell the story as well easier to wear pieces that illustrate elements of the seasonal theme. We just introduced a new signature stiletto pump to the collection. The difference may seem small but the slightly chiseled toe offers a softer point and the angled heel the illusion of additional height.

What are your sources of inspiration when creating a raw idea for the new season? 

So many things inspire me – I am a creative and my eyes are always open for new sources of inspiration. Photographic books and art are constant sources as well as nature and the sights I see every day whether at home in London, at our house in the countryside or travelling around the world.

 When brainstorming for a new collection, what is the first thing that pops in your head? Take us through the process. 

It usually starts with a single inspiration that I can see translating into a story across all our key silhouettes from pumps to booties, flats to sneakers and of course our bag collections as well as introducing completely new pieces. For example, for SS16 I was drawn to the positive energy of California, the blue skies punctuated with swaying palm trees and the laid back glamour of Los Angeles; as a result the colour palette reflects this mood and design details include palm prints in a number of iterations across shoes and bags.Then I sketch out initial ideas and work closely with my design team to create the full collection. There are lots of edits before we sample the final collection, I still feel excited when we receive the first prototypes, keen to see whether the fantasy has come to life as I dreamed.

Jimmy Choo is a well known brand worldwide, especially in the Middle East. Do you plan on doing something special for the women that wear Jimmy Choo here? 

Our customer’s in the Middle East love to dress up, we have some beautiful pieces in the Spring Summer collection that will make a real statement as well as the timeless pieces from the MEMENTO collection launching in May. The crystal embellished ROX and STORM are guaranteed to make a memorable entrance.

How do you see your work is appreciated and interpreted by the Kuwaiti society?

Kuwaiti ladies love fashion and dressing up. They embrace the concept of glamorous dressing for dinner and meeting friends. They enjoy a busy social life and fashion plays an important part in it.

What are your goals and targets for the future? What is your next project or your next big step? 

Being twenty years old you have achieved your set characteristics for your brand, my vision is to maintain the integrity of those characteristics whilst pushing the boundaries and instilling a firmer creative code throughout the brand. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, I have designed MEMENTO, a tribute to the entrance-making moments that have come to define Jimmy Choo style. The 20 shoes and bags comprising the capsule collection honors our legacy of high glamour looks – many of which have been played out over the years on the red carpet.  Reimagined and designed for today, the collection is intended to thrill and delight in equal measure.

AMIE- SOFT SMOOTH LEATHER WITH ELAPHE PATENT CHAIN BORDER- LIGHT KHAKI MIX

Editor: Zeina Al Ayoub