CAMBRIDGE COUTURIER: In an unconventional fusion of stilettos and sapphires, pumps and pearls, Jimmy Choo has added fine jewelry to his repertoire with Gènavant.
Choo has been working with his godson Reggie Hung on the collection, which was the subject of a one-day exhibition at the Cambridge International Art Gallery on Friday.
He and Hung unveiled a glittering selection of bejeweled shoes — and shoe-inspired jewelry — during the event, which drew clients, friends and family including Choo’s daughter Emily.
The shoemaker talked about the importance of craftsmanship and said Gènavant was created to keep the skills of fine jewelry alive.
“The main reason I’m here is for Reggie. The most important thing is the skill and I want to keep supporting the crafts and the craftsmen so they can create more beautiful things,” said Choo.
The shoes and jewelry on display were done purely for the show, and the exhibition is set to travel to London, Milan, Shanghai and Beijing.
The artisanal pieces were meant to evoke grace, peace and elegance, according to Choo. Heels were embellished with rubies, pearls, sapphires and other stones, making for some weighty shoes — with price points to match.
He said prices will range from 1 million pounds to 4 million pounds depending on the jewels used.
There was an array of styles on show: Some of the shoes were meant for wearing, while others had been transformed into accessories — rings, pins and necklaces with small shoe charms. Each of the designs can be tailored for the individual customer.
“We try to make jewelry that is the perfect final touch and won’t lose the meaning of the shoes — it complements rather than competes,” said Hung.
Hung’s family has been in the jewelry business for four generations, and to him, crafting fine jewelry is a natural act. The only obstacle he said he faced in the design process was figuring out how to support the weight of the jewels on the point of the heel.
Choo continues to make couture shoes for private clients, including the King of Malaysia, lectures on behalf of the British Council at universities around the world, and spends his time championing young designers and students.
“I firmly believe in education, and I want to put my heart into finding potential designers; taking them under my wing and helping them grow. I feel very honored and happy when my protégés receive recognition and opportunities from big companies,” said Choo.
Choo also made it clear that he no longer has any ties with his namesake company, which he left two decades ago and which is now owned by Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.
“Jimmy Choo (the brand) is doing very well, but I have my own separate business. The reason I sold the business is because I needed more time for my family. I remember one time I slept in the workshop for four days. Do I need that kind of life or do I change and give myself a more relaxing lifestyle?” Choo said of his decision.