Tamara Mellon

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Tamara Mellon
Born (1967-07-07) 7 July 1967 (age 53)
London, England
EducationHeathfield St Mary's School
OccupationFashion designer, businesswoman, magazine editor
Tamara Mellon

Tamara Mellon OBE (born 7 July 1967; née Yeardye) is a British fashion entrepreneur who is a co-founder of luxury footwear brand Jimmy Choo.

Mellon founded her namesake luxury footwear brand, Tamara Mellon, with co-founder and CEO Jill Layfield and CDO Tania Spinelli in 2016.

Early life[edit]

Mellon was born Tamara Yeardye in London, on 7 July 1967. She is the daughter of Tom Yeardye, a stunt double for Rock Hudson, and Ann (Davis) Yeardye, a former Chanel model.[1] Mellon is the eldest of three siblings. Her current surname stems from the time when she was married to Matthew Mellon, an American businessman and member of the prominent Mellon family.[2]

In 1976, Mellon's family relocated to Beverly Hills, in a home next door to Nancy Sinatra.[1] Mellon alternated summers between California and the UK. She attended two independent girls' schools in BerkshireMarist School and Heathfield St Mary's School—before attending finishing school in Switzerland at the now-defunct Institut Alpin Videmanette.[1]


Mellon began her career at Phyllis Walters Public Relations, Mirabella, and in 1991 was employed as an accessories editor and assistant to Sarajane Hoare at British Vogue.[3]

Mellon approached bespoke shoe-maker Mr Jimmy Choo with the idea of launching a ready-to-wear shoe company. As co-founder of the Jimmy Choo company, Mellon secured funding from her father for the creation of her business, and sourced factories in Italy. In addition, she set up an office in Italy to handle production, quality control and shipping. By 2001, Jimmy Choo Ltd had over 100 wholesale clients, including Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and the collections accounted for over 50% of the production of several of these factories.

The first Jimmy Choo store, on Motcombe Street in London, was followed by stores in New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. In April 2001, Jimmy Choo Ltd partnered with Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. Acquiring Mr Choo's share of the ready-to-wear business, Equinox's Chief Executive, Robert Bensoussan, became CEO of Jimmy Choo Ltd, introducing handbag and small leather goods collections.

In November 2004, with the company valued at £101 million, Hicks Muse announced the majority acquisition of Jimmy Choo Ltd. Mellon made an estimated £85 million from her eventual sale of Jimmy Choo in 2011.[4]

In 2007, Mellon appeared on the Sunday Times Rich List, where she was ranked as the 751st richest person in the UK, with an estimated wealth of £99 million.[5] She was also ranked as the 64th richest woman in Britain.[6]

In 2013 she stated that her eponymous luxury shoe brand would not buy from companies that lacked a female employee in an executive role.[4]

Business difficulties[edit]

Mellon's shoe and apparel brand filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code in December 2015. The filing stated that the company has assets of between $1 million and $10 million and also has between 100 and 199 creditors who are owed between $1 million and $10 million.[7][8] She was forced to file under Section 11 following pressure from angry investors, predicted to lose approximately £2.7 million.[9] Mellon was subsequently bailed out by American equity firm NEA, with a $10 million cash injection.[10][11]

In January 2016, Mellon's former backers filed an objection to the restructuring plans under American bankruptcy protection laws. They stated that these plans allowed her, her fiancé and a fund to gain control of the new company, leaving former financers with no repayment. The objection includes accusations of mismanagement and abuse of the company, including employing a life coach on the payroll and spending $100,000 on tickets to The Met Gala in New York. The US Department of Justice also filed a formal objection.[12]

In September 2016, it was revealed that Mellon is suing Jimmy Choo, alleging that the company had blocked her from using luxury shoemakers in Florence, Italy to produce her own line.[13]

Public and political activities[edit]

Mellon is a member of the New Enterprise Council, a group of entrepreneurs who advise the Conservative Party on policies related to the needs of business.[14]

On 9 November 2010, she was named as a "global trade envoy for Britain" by the British Government, intended to have a "roving brief to promote the country’s booming fashion industry overseas".[15]

Mellon has served on the Board of Directors for Revlon since 2008.[16][17] She is also a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[18]

Honours and awards[edit]

In the 2010 Birthday Honours, Mellon was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the fashion industry.[19]

In 2014, Tamara Mellon received the Women's Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Award[20] in recognition for her achievements in fashion.[21]

Personal life[edit]

In 2013, Mellon published the autobiography 'In My Shoes' in which she details her rise to success and her partnership with shoe-designer Jimmy Choo. In an interview about the book with Vanity Fair, she spoke of the challenges of designing shoes for the Oscar Season.[22] Several media publications reported on the discussion in her book about her drug-addiction issues, specifically her problems with cocaine. Subsequent news coverage also focused on her stint in rehab, party lifestyle and being fired from Vogue Magazine.[23] Mellon's battle with alcohol addiction is also well documented[24] and she met her first husband, Matthew, at Alcoholics Anonymous. They later divorced and she wrote a number of articles about the dramatic details of her marriage, referencing "snorting her way through alpine ranges of cocaine".[25][26]

In 2015 she announced her engagement to Michael Ovitz in a magazine interview with HELLO![27] It has since been revealed that Ovitz is still legally married to his first wife Judy.[28] In a 2016 The Sunday Times article, she referred to the situation as "complicated".[26]


  • Mellon, Tamara; William Patrick (2013). In My Shoes: A Memoir. New York: PortfolioPenguin. ISBN 9781591846161. OCLC 855783504.


  1. ^ a b c Bee-Shyuan Chang (26 October 2012). "Tamara Mellon's Next Step". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Tamara Mellon". www.vogue.co.uk.
  3. ^ Crowe, Lauren Goldstein; Rosen, Sagra Maceira de (2009). The Jimmy Choo Story: Power, Profits and the Pursuit of the Perfect Shoe. A&C Black. ISBN 9781408803189.
  4. ^ a b "High heels that pack a kick". London Evening Standard. 28 November 2013. p. 15.
  5. ^ "Rich List search" timesonline.co.uk.
  6. ^ "Women's rich list". timesonline.co.uk
  7. ^ Lidbury, Olivia (7 December 2015). "Tamara Mellon has filed for bankruptcy". The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Milligan, Laura (7 December 2015). "Tamara Mellon Files For Bankruptcy". Vogue.
  9. ^ Sunderland, Ruth (10 December 2015). "How the high-living Jimmy Choo shoe queen crashed to earth: She's David Cameron's trade ambassador but there's a humiliating new episode in Tamara Mellon's life as her firm goes bankrupt". Daily Mail.
  10. ^ Evans, Peter (20 December 2015). "Tamara Mellon thrown lifeline". The Sunday Times.
  11. ^ Sabharwal, Veebs (21 December 2015). "Tamara Mellon saved from drowning". Retail Gazette.
  12. ^ Evans, Peter (10 January 2016). "Mellon Mauled". The Sunday Times.
  13. ^ "Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo Co-Founder, Sues the Famed Footwear Company – The Fashion Law". Thefashionlaw.com. 9 September 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Chapman, James (9 November 2010). "Jimmy Choo queen Tamara Mellon is unveiled as Britain's new £100m trade envoy". Daily Mail. London.
  16. ^ "Tamara Mellon". Forbes.
  17. ^ "Revlon website". Phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Elton John AIDS Foundation patrons". Ejaf.com. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  19. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 11.
  20. ^ "WEDO Annual Pioneer Awards 2014". Women's Entrepreneurship Day. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  21. ^ Duran, Paula (20 November 2014). "Women Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!". Marie Claire. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Tamara Mellon 'In My Shoes' Family Battle". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  23. ^ "Jimmy Choo's Mellon Kicks Coke Habit Raises Stilettos". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  24. ^ "From alcoholic to Jimmy Choo boss". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Jimmy Choo queen reveals why she gave husband the boot". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  26. ^ a b Pavia, Will (13 February 2016). "Don't mess with Tamara Mellon". The Sunday Times.
  27. ^ "Tamara Mellon engaged to Michael Ovitz". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  28. ^ "Friends don't expect Tamara Mellon and Mike Ovitz to marry any time soon". Retrieved 15 December 2015.