Monday, Feb. 09, 2004

Tamara Mellon

"I may not have the stereotypical head for business, but I have feet that were made for heels," says Tamara Mellon, president of Jimmy Choo and one of few women in the luxury-shoe business. In 1996, after a stint as accessories editor at British Vogue, Mellon formed a partnership with Choo, a couture shoemaker she discovered in London's East End. By 2001, Mellon, ambitious to expand the brand, had cut a deal with Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd., which acquired Choo's share of the ready-to-wear business for $15 million (Choo still controls the couture business). Soon the brand's 1940s-boudoir-style stores began popping up around the globe.

"As well as design and quality, I really work on the comfort of a heel," says Mellon, who is never seen in less than a 4-in. stiletto. Though she is credited with generating a glamorous global image for the little-known brand, Mellon says she still feels she faces chauvinism on the business side. "It shouldn't be a man's world. They may wear the trousers, but they don't wear the heels," she says.

After all, it's women — from Mellon to fans like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Halle Berry — who put Jimmy Choo on the map. And with 25 new stores set to open by 2005, the red carpet is not the only place where you will be seeing this footprint.