Mr Choo's Academy

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Weak ankles are like a curse. First, because I love shoes. Second, because as a result, wearing heels is challenging. And high-platform shoes are an absolute no-go.

And the universe went: ‘And yet, you shall work for Christian Louboutin…’ ha ha ha, I hear with an amused and ominous echo, the universal intelligence giggling, as I tittered around for most of my many years working for the father of the red soles.

Talking about shaky ankles, I remember that one time when we attended a fashion show with Christian and a couple of others, and as we were leaving the Sanderson hotel after a pre-show drink (one drink!) I slipped and fell on their smooth marbled steps. Hotel staff ran to me, worried I’d be the kind who’d sue over the incident, not knowing of my unfortunate lax condition.

Thankfully my burgundy leather kitten heels were only 7 cm, and it wasn’t too bad a twist, however Christian and Andreas (my then boss) deemed it necessary to carry me up the steps, arms crossed to make a human chair, delivering me red in the face on my seat just before the show started. As I turned to my left, full of embarrassment, to say hi to my neighbour, I recognised him. Oops, I was now face-to-face with our most direct competitor. Christian had delivered me and my swollen ankle next to Jimmy Choo. You can’t make that stuff up.

It was an awkward few minutes for me (he had no idea who I was, why would he?) and thankfully fashion shows aren’t that long. I exited, amused and, thankfully, on my own two feet.

It’s been twenty years since that incident. And I’ve never seen Mr Choo since then, but I remembered his gentle and kind manner. Which made me all the happier to discover his new project. The talented Malaysian shoemaker has launched an academy, a 'makerspace' as he calls it, to support craft-based education and entrepreneurship, two subjects that are rarely taught alongside each other.

“People say to me, ‘At your age, you should relax and not worry about anything,’” he tells the Financial Times. “They say, ‘Why would you want to create a school? Why would you want to come back to work?’ Because I love fashion. I love education. If you’ve got something you love and look forward to, you never feel old.” Adding, “My father always taught me, when you drink water, think about where the water came from,” he muses. “If it wasn’t for London and the Cordwainers, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Read more here.