Jimmy Choo is synonymous with luxury shoes and leather goods. The term, name-dropped in hit shows like Sex In The City or bandied about in umpteen guides on how to affect a stylish and memorable persona, is not only that of a brand. It is also a simplified version of the name of the man who literally shaped how our feet should look in order to earn the reputation of being a fashionable metropolitan somebody.
Way back in the day, Malaysian-born Jimmy Choo graduated from London’s renowned Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney, long before the art galleries and loft inhabitants moved in. Even then, long before the college became part of the London College of Fashion, the school commanded an international reputation for producing shoe designers of technical excellence and creative flair second to none.
The seminal endeavours that would eventually lead to Jimmy Choo’s current stellar status and international currency first saw him set up his workshop in the then far-from-salubrious environs of London’s Hackney. And, although the top fashion press had already acknowledged Jimmy Choo’s talent in editorial, there can be no denying that the patronage of the much-copied Diana, Princess of Wales was something of a watershed in propelling Jimmy Choo to the attention of the broader international fashion circuit. Furthermore, the steady growth of the brand under the skilful eye of its creator led to success upon success that rightfully earned Jimmy Choo an award carrying the title of Dato’ by the Sultan of Pahang state in Malaysia in 2000 and an OBE in 2002 in recognition of his services to the shoe and fashion industry in the UK. And there were the rest of us thinking that we just went for Jimmy Choo because the shoes were so sexy…
In amongst the slew of current campaigns, Jimmy Choo’s AW11 campaign reiterates the brand’s long-held ability to remind us that shoes are something powerful; something that can make a statement even if through a half-meant humour that totters on hyperbole.
Shot by one of the world’s currently most-in-demand fashion photographers Steven Meisel, it’s a louche affair played out in the suitable surrounds of an upmarket hotel. It’s photographed in colour. The use of lighting that implies the flash of a P.I. crashing in upon an adulterous couple or an unexpected pairing of celebrities caught off-guard in the traditionally anonymous locale of a luxury hotel. Cast as a pair on lovers spied voyeuristically, top model Raquel Zimmermann oozes all of the diva appeal worthy of a leading lady straight out of a 1960’s European cinema classic while square-jawed male model Ben Hill is all butch and bathos. The beauty of Meisel’s particular pitch for this campaign is that it never loses the potential for such dramatic moments to be knowingly ludicrous. The almost slapstick manifestation of the imagery takes us back to a comedy of genders worthy of Preston Sturges. This is a stylish and sleek narrative about what happens when a very stylish man and woman get up close and personal without ever losing a grip on a humane reality.
Sexy, stylish and ultimately rather wry, part of the power of Steven Meisel’s elaboration of this season’s enduring Jimmy Choo appeal is that it reiterates that we should never take ourselves too seriously, no matter how fabulously our feet are clad.