World-renowned shoemaker and cultural icon Professor Jimmy Choo OBE gave Perth an insight into his extraordinary life and career yesterday.
Professor Choo was brought to Australia for the first time by _The West Australian _'s Fashion Agenda and Hawaiian for The Business Behind the Glamour lunch at Crown Perth's grand ballroom.
Yesterday, he got a rock-star reception and had an audience of business leaders, fashion identities and women just obsessed with shoes on the edge of their seats as he told his story.
"This was a great opportunity for me because I have never had a chance to come to Australia," Professor Choo said.
"It is all about the right timing and the right occasion and this is a dream for me."
Born in Malaysia in 1961, Professor Choo followed in his cobbler father's footsteps and made his first pair of shoes at just 11.
"When I was young I was brought up in a shoemaking family," he said.
"They never forced me. I always wanted to be a shoe designer and I wanted to be a good shoe craftsman as well."
After moving to Britain to study at Cordwainers Technical College, he became the darling of London's fashion scene when he opened his first shop in Hackney in 1986.
The ready-to-wear line, which he co-founded in 1996 and bears his name, shot to worldwide fame when Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshaw "lost her Choo" on an episode of Sex and the City in 1998.
"You have to design the right way for them and you have to follow fashion as well," he said when talking about why his designs have struck a chord with women worldwide.
Professor Choo has designed for many of the world's highest profile women, but he talks most fondly of the late Princess Diana.
He regaled the crowd with stories of designing for the "simple, down-to-earth" Princess and how she would help carry shoes to his car once they had finished their regular appointments at Kensington Palace.
"She loved high heels but she would also wear a flat shoe as well. The only thing she didn't want to wear was the sandal, she didn't want to show her toes," he said.
And even though his by- appointment Jimmy Choo Couture line costs about $5000 a pair, Professor Choo said he had nothing against wearing a simple pair of thongs around the house.
"I still wear a thong. When I am at home it is very comfortable for me," he said with a laugh.
After the lunch, Professor Choo went to Claremont Quarter to open The Story of Professor Jimmy Choo OBE: Creativity Through Skill, an exhibition featuring some of his shoe creations from his three-decade career. The world-first exhibition is open to the public until August 17.