Tamara Mellon, shoe queen, mistress of a multi-million pound empire of heels, has left the company – Jimmy Choo - that she co-founded in 1996. At the time she was an editor at Vogue, who worked closely with a local cobbler called Jimmy Choo, who custom-made shoes for her fashion shoots. She started the business with Jimmy and his niece, Sandra Choi. Although Jimmy himself has now left the company, Sandra is still a creative director. Tamara has always been the perfect ambassador for the brand, oozing, as she does, effortless glamour and wealth, hitting the gossip columns with her time in rehab (before she started the company) squillion dollar divorce from Matthew Mellon and dating the likes of Christian Slater. She frequently modelled for her own ads, posed nude for Terry Richardson and revealed an expanse of decolletage for the campaign when she launched a Jimmy Choo fragrance.
Her CEO, Joshua Schulman is also leaving. The announcement came yesterday that the conglomerate Labelux Group, (which also owns shoe brand, Bally) which acquired Jimmy Choo in the summer for a reported $850 million is now charge of the whole thing. Mr Shulman will remain in his job during the transition period until a new CEO is found, while Tamara will leave at the end of the month.
It is a surprise to the industry, and no real reason has been given for the double departure. If anything, Tamara has been more active and more committed to the fancy footwear brand than ever this summer –for example, her ICONS collection, the super shoot with art photographer Nan Goldin, as well as giving interviews and hosting benefits.
At the time of the sale of the business in July, Mellon told Footwear News she was ‘very committed’ to the label and its expansion.
‘None of the bidders would buy the company without me,’ she said at the time, adding that she was just beginning to craft a long-term growth plan with Labelux. ‘We're only a teenager. It takes about 30 years for a luxury brand to really hit maturity.’
Oh no! Tamara is in Brazil at the moment, on her British Government trade ambassador (fashbassador, we call it!) duties. She hasn’t issue any comment. But we don't think the company will be the same without her either! While we are sure the fashion and footwear industry insiders are busy gossiping away over their lattes this morning, in public, retail top brass have jumped to praise the pair, both Tamara and Joshua, for the example they have set over the years.
‘Josh and Tamara have been the most amazing partners,’ said Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer at Saks Fifth Avenue, going on to say ‘I am very saddened to know that he won't be our partner at Jimmy Choo going forward,’ Frasch said.
Kurt Geiger CEO Neil Clifford said Mellon and Schulman's individual strengths added up to a very strong partnership. ‘[They] were the perfect cocktail of art and science,’ said Clifford. ‘They will be missed.’
More news as we hear it, footwear fans!