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November 15, 1952 |
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Dato' Jimmy Choo, OBE, born Choo Yeang Keat (Chinese: 周仰杰; pinyin: Zhōu Yǎngjié), is a Malaysian Chinese fashion designer based in London, United Kingdom. He is best known for founding Jimmy Choo Ltd that became known for its handmade women's shoes.
Choo was born in Penang, Malaysia, into a family of shoemakers, who are of Chinese descent. His family name is Chow but was misspelled on his birth certificate as Choo. He has a son, Danny, who runs Mirai Inc. in Tokyo, Japan, and a daughter, who studied interior design in San Francisco. He made his first shoe when he was 11 years old.
He is perhaps the most notable of students of Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney, England, from which he graduated in 1983. (The college is now part of the London College of Fashion at University of the Arts London.) Choo has divulged that he worked part-time at restaurants and as a cleaner at a shoe factory to help fund his college education.
Jimmy Choo traced his beginnings back to his workshop in Hackney, North London, which he opened in 1986 by renting an old hospital building. His craftsmanship and designs were soon noticed and he came to the verge of international notability when his creations were featured in a record eight pages in a 1988 issue of Vogue. Patronage from Diana, Princess of Wales, from 1990 further boosted his image.
In April 2001, Choo sold his 50% stake in the company for £10 million. He has since concentrated his work on the exclusive Jimmy Choo Couture line produced under license from Jimmy Choo Ltd. The Jimmy Choo London line, also known as Jimmy Choo Ready-To-Wear or, simply, Jimmy Choo, is under the purview of Mellon. The ready-to-wear line has expanded to include accessories such as handbags.
Choo lives in London and is currently involved in a project to set up a shoemaking institute in Malaysia, where his iconic status is often evoked to inspire budding shoemakers and fashion designers. Jimmy Choo Ltd. produces some of the most expensive high-end shoes.
- 2000: Bestowed a state award carrying the title of Dato' by the Sultan of Pahang state in Malaysia for his achievements
- 2002: Conferred an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in recognition of his services to the shoe and fashion industry in the UK
- 2004: Awarded the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of his home state of Penang, which also carries the title Dato'
- 2009: Awarded an Honorary Fellowship by University of the Arts London 
- 2011: Winner of “The World’s Outstanding Chinese Designer 2011” Design for Asia Award
- 2012: Received You Bring Charm to the World – World’s Most Influential Chinese Award
- Awarded an honorary doctorate in art in July 2004 by De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K., for his contribution to their unique Single Honours Footwear Design degree
- Newsmakers (2006) Gale Biography In Context, Detroit
- Back from London to receive award AllMalaysia.info, 27 August 2004
- Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri's birthday honours list TheStar.com.my, 10 July 2004
- UAL Honorary Fellows and Doctorates
- Mellon, Tamara; William Patrick (2013). In My Shoes: A Memoir. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. ISBN 9781591846161. OCLC 855783504.