A woman's right to Choos: Shu Qi's shoe collaboration
Actress Shu Qi receives a bespoke footwear collection as the label looks forward to some red carpet exposure on the mainland
What began as one pair of bespoke Jimmy Choo shoes made for film star Shu Qi grew into a small capsule collection when delivered to her earlier this month. There were four pairs from the spring-summer 2013 collection, including a black and a pink pair of fine glittery lace evening shoes, very on-trend turquoise metallic water snake sandals and a pair of black trimmed, gilded evening shoes. There were also two bespoke pairs of crystal-studded platforms, one in nude satin and the other blue.
The project began late one afternoon during the fashion shows in Milan last September.
Shu is enjoying a Cinderella moment. Sitting in a showroom surrounded by high heels in every hue, with drawings of more shoes spread out on a coffee table in front of her and swatches of leather at her fingertips, the beautiful, willowy actress is discussing what she likes to wear. Sitting next to her is Simon Holloway and kneeling by her feet Sandra Choi, co-designers of Jimmy Choo shoes. The designers are offering to make her a bespoke pair of shoes. "You can have whatever you wish," says Choi.
Who could refuse such an opportunity? Jimmy Choo has become a byword for superchic heels - the type that looks most at home on the red carpets and fashion catwalks and is synonymous with celebrity.
The conversation between the designers and Shu slips between English, Putonghua and Cantonese as they consider colours, heel heights and platforms. "I only wear platforms on the red carpet, they give me stability," she says, although she admits there are limits to just how high she can manage. She adds she likes high courts because they make legs look so elegant.
Her eyes light up as she spots a pair of orchid pink shoes from the summer collection. She worries they might be too high, until she tries them on. "I think ready-to-wear should match the shoes and not the other way round," she says, claiming that she starts with the shoes when she is dressing for an event. "The selection the stylist gives me is quite broad, so I make my own choice, and the shoes come first."
But she doesn't want to influence the designers with too much input. "I hope there will be surprises."
Holloway shows her a pair of pink suede platforms with crystal heels. "I love pink," says Shu. "Pink shoes are rare and special." Choi points to some of her drawings of sandals and suggests they could be sprayed silver or gold. Holloway shows Shu a rainbow-dyed python skin that features in the new spring collection, suggesting it may work with a co-ordinating plain colour for the straps.
Under the guidance of the British entrepreneur and former chief executive Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo shrewdly built links with Hollywood. The business grew in the late 1990s from a small operation in London's East End to a worldwide luxury goods brand with shops around the globe, creating shoes lapped up by fashion-hungry trendsetters. Now, having won over America, the brand is stepping onto the Chinese red carpet. Shu, one of China's most recognisable faces, is promoting her new action film, A Chinese Odyssey.
The actress is clearly a shoe enthusiast. "I throw away old clothes, but never shoes," she says. "I am sure I have more than 100 pairs, but I never count them."
The collaboration in Milan was the first of its kind for the label and also the first time that Choi and Holloway met the Taiwanese-born star. "She has a very sweet, delicate and feminine exterior while being admirably confident, especially in knowing what her style is and what suits her," says Choi. "It was a joy to work with her as she has such an appreciation for our designs and was really involved and animated when talking about the specific materials and colours. We like a girl who knows her Choos."
The focus, explains Holloway, is on glamorous, sexy shoes for the red carpet and evening events. "She has a strong awareness of her overall style and what works for her feet. She was very clear about the styles, colours and design details she likes."
The two pairs of crystal-studded shoes specifically designed for her incorporate all her favourite design elements - the height, the sparkle and the wow factor.
"Working with Jimmy Choo has given me the opportunity to learn more about the design of shoes," says Shu. "I learned how to mix and match different materials, especially those sparkly ones."