Jimmy Choo recalls his relationship with Princess Diana, and reveals why no other royal quite compares

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Princess Diana used to offer to carry Jimmy Choo's bags to his car after visits to Kensington Palace, the famed shoe designer has revealed. Diana is pictured above arriving at Christie's in New York for a pre-auction party donning a pair of Choo's designs

Jimmy Choo has revealed why no other royal can ever quite compare to Princess Diana.

The esteemed shoemaker, 75, based in London, had a long working relationship with the late Princess, which was revealed in 1997 when Diana visited the Royal Albert Hall to watch Swan Lake in a pair of Jimmy Choo satin blue sandals. 

It was the start of a fruitful relationship, and Diana went on to wear the Malaysian-born designer’s footwear on several occasions and would even phone him up when she was due a wardrobe update.

But it was their fond farewells that Choo remembers most dearly, with Diana offering to carry his bags out for him after fittings at Kensington Palace. 

‘She would walk me back into the car park and try to carry my case for me,’ he recalled. ‘I thought…”Princess! What are you doing in the car park?”. 

Princess Diana used to offer to carry Jimmy Choo’s bags to his car after visits to Kensington Palace, the famed shoe designer has revealed. Diana is pictured above arriving at Christie’s in New York for a pre-auction party donning a pair of Choo’s designs 

Esteemed fashion designer and businessman Jimmy Choo (pictured) recalled fond memories with the 'very kind' Princess Diana

Esteemed fashion designer and businessman Jimmy Choo (pictured) recalled fond memories with the ‘very kind’ Princess Diana  

‘The [rest] of the royal family…would they do that? I don’t think so. They would say “Bye”. That’s it! Diana was very kind,’ he told The Independent.

The fashion designer revealed that he would arrive at Kensington Palace clutching a big case brimming with designs, and together, the pair would sit on the floor and sample designs. 

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As the relationship blossomed, formalities dwindled and Diana would eventually phone Choo up when she wanted to try some new styles. 

He recalled how she always asked after his family, saying she ‘cared about everybody’.

In 2001, Choo parted way with his brand, and sold his 50 per cent stake in the company for £10million. 

But it led the luxury footwear pioneer to his next creative venture, launching a £18,000-a-year fashion academy in London.

In 2021, he opened the doors of the JCA | London Fashion Academy in Mayfair, which is on track to become the UK’s newest university exclusively dedicated to fashion.

Students study fashion design and entrepreneurship at three levels, foundation diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate, with Jimmy acting as a hands-on guide for the aspiring designers.

Speaking with The Times, he explained: ‘London is still home to me, so I’ll be in and out. I want to see what they’re doing. I want to talk to them, to make sure they come to the academy to study, not because they want to be famous.’

Diana first wore a pair of Jimmy's designs in 1997 at the Royal Albert Hall for a performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet. The blue sling-back heeled shoes (pictured) perfectly matched Diana's dress

Diana first wore a pair of Jimmy’s designs in 1997 at the Royal Albert Hall for a performance of Swan Lake by the English National Ballet. The blue sling-back heeled shoes (pictured) perfectly matched Diana’s dress 

The fashion designer revealed the idea of him launching a school came from his children, and said he had been working on the plans for several years.

The idea of the project kept the 75-year-old busy during the Covid-19 crisis while he had been locked down in his second home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and his wife and family are living in London.

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The fashion designer revealed the idea of him launching a school came from his children, and said he had been working on the plans for several years.

He said he had noticed many designers ‘do not know about business’, saying: ‘My vision for the academy is to teach them my knowledge for design, but also to have a business mind as well.’

He said he had learned his business skills ‘slowly’ over ‘years and years’, adding: ‘The Chinese always say, “When you drink water, think about where the water came from”.’

Jimmy Choo's brand is beloved by celebrities and royals alike, with the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge regularly stepping out in shoes by the designer Jimmy Choo's brand is beloved by celebrities and royals alike, with the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge regularly stepping out in shoes by the designer

Jimmy Choo’s brand is beloved by celebrities and royals alike, with the Duchess of Sussex and Duchess of Cambridge regularly stepping out in shoes by the designer 

THE JIMMY CHOO JOURNEY 

Jimmy Choo Ltd was founded in 1996 by Tamara Mellon, then British Vogue’s accessories editor, and Malaysian couture cobbler Jimmy Choo, who ran a successful but small business in the East End of London.

Mellon secured a £150,000 loan from her father, businessman Tom Yeardye, to go into business with Choo, with the first products sold under the Jimmy Choo London line.

The brand was immortalised in the TV show Sex and the City, when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie revealed it was her favourite store.

In April 2001 Mr Choo sold his share in the ready-to-wear business to Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. He now runs a London atelier under the name Jimmy Choo’s shoes, and is in the process of setting up a shoe-making institute in Malaysia.

Lion Capital acquired a majority shareholding in Jimmy Choo Ltd in November 2004.

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The company was sold in 2007 to TowerBrook Capital Partners for £225 million, with Mellon retaining a number of shares.

In 2010, Mellon was awarded the OBE for her services to business.

It was later sold to Labelux, the current owners, for £525.5 million in 2011 with J.Choo Limited remaining the company name throughout.

Mellon agreed to stay on in a creative consultancy role but severed all ties in 2011. 

The Academy’s courses combine the latest teachings in contemporary design with the entrepreneurial skills required to set-up and drive successful fashion brands of the future.

Jimmy plans to help nurture students into emerging professional designers through a mentored approach.

The pupils are provided with a level of access to internationally recognised design leaders unrivalled by traditional colleges and universities.

The JCA | London Fashion Academy has curated a syllabus inspired by Professor Jimmy Choo’s experiences in building his own luxury super-brand as well as the multi-faceted skill sets which fashion designers increasingly need in today’s ultra-competitive multi-channel global landscape. 

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