Stepping Out: Get a Closer Look at Jimmy Choo x Marine Serre
It all started with a late-night scrolling session of vintage fashion websites. Marine Serre was deep into research for her SS21 collection and her mind had turned to shoes. Hours into her search, she came across a pair of vintage Jimmy Choos – kitten heels with especially elongated toes.
From circa 1999, the shoes were exactly the kind that the Sex and the City girls would have worn with their Fendi Baguettes and hipster jeans. Serre was smitten. The low-slung, extended silhouette was perfect for her SS21 Amor Fati collection. She snapped them up and didn’t just use them for research: these vintage beauties happened to be in her size and the designer wore them to death. Her connection with them was so strong that it led her to a new collaboration with Jimmy Choo, featuring 13 styles that meld her signature functionality with the shoe brand’s distinctive femininity.
“I don’t buy a lot of things,” says Serre. “I scrolled on the internet for quite some nights. I think the link with this intense research and the fact that they are the only shoes with a pointy toe that are comfortable and that you can bike in made the conversation with [creative director of Jimmy Choo] Sandra Choi organic and easy.” Much to Choi’s delight, Serre walked into the Jimmy Choo studio wearing the vintage shoes when the designers first met to plan their collaboration. “I thought, ‘I like this girl already,’” says Choi of that initial meeting. “She was wearing [them] in a new, fresh, second-time-round kind of way, and with a new-generation vibe. It was really refreshing.”
They began to swap ideas, and then came Covid. “I remember leaving London, taking all the samples with me to the countryside and having remote meetings in my sitting room while trying to find my wi-fi spot,” says Choi, who spent lockdown at her home in Somerset. Serre’s team was also working remotely, but the creative conversations flowed. “Basically, it was about how do we make a shoe that is feminine, desirable and comfortable by mixing our different visions,” explains Serre.
With her prized pair of vintage Jimmy Choos close by, Serre pored over the brand’s vast back catalogue. “I already had the shape in my hands from the archives. It was exciting to see how we could merge the two brands’ identities into a hybrid product that could reflect the feminine aesthetic of Jimmy Choo and our futuristic approach towards practicality and comfort.” They did it with ankle and high boots that come with a 2in heel. This is the magic height for Serre, because it looks “elegant and feminine, and I can bike with it”.
Choi was fascinated by Serre’s take on Jimmy Choo’s past and present. Along with that turn-of-the-century kitten heel, Serre gravitated towards the sportier styles that are a more recent addition to the Jimmy Choo vocabulary. A boxing boot – “She calls it the Kung Fu boot, I call it the Ninja,” Choi says – adds a kick-ass aspect to the collaboration. “It was important to design and produce a product that makes you feel good and comfortable while wearing it,” says Serre, who believes shoes are a crucial element to the whole look. “The shoes give the full attitude of a person and affect the way you move. If you are uncomfortable with it, and your feet are not well-grounded, even with the most amazing outfit the final look can be totally off. Simply, if the shoe disappears in the look, it means it is the perfect shoe.” One clever way to make her shoes “disappear” was to fashion them from the same jersey fabric as her clothes. Serre sent several bolts featuring her signature crescent pattern to Choi so that the ultimate head-to-toe look could be created.
“Our common word was always ‘functionality’,” recalls Choi, who says it’s not one she hears often from the mouths of fashion designers. “Marine is very aware of how people live and how they operate. We’ll talk about the need to have a lower heel because people are going places and they are no longer in cars or taxis. There was a lot of putting reality into the collection. I do that anyway, but it’s not something I talk about, whereas she is vocal about it. With this we can show that Jimmy Choo is not just about high-heeled shoes, and that is very refreshing.”
For Serre, the technical savoir-faire that Jimmy Choo is known for and its enticing archive were the big draws.“It is really important to be quite radical about the people that you want to work with, and to define the reason for the collaboration itself,” she says. “Learning about people and about the heritage will make you fully aware of the product that you are manipulating. This gives you the ability to cross boundaries and eventually to create a completely new product.”
“Marine’s sense of freedom is inspiring,” Choi says. “She has this understanding of where the world is but she is also building this fantasy. Added to that is her obsession with functionality and her need to make sure it’s current.” The two designers clearly share a mutual respect, and another collaboration seems likely. They have stayed in touch and Serre is still wearing her favourite vintage Jimmy Choos. “Every time I talk to her,” Choi says, “she sticks her foot up to the computer and shows me.”
Photographed by Joseph Molines, styled by Sophia Neophitou. Issue 66 of 10 Magazine – MY, HAPPY, PLACE – is on newsstands Monday, March 15. Pre-order your copy here.