Tamara Mellon, a founder of Jimmy Choo, is trying her hand at life in Los Angeles. The city represents a new beginning for Mellon, who has been in various lives, a fashion editor, a fixture of tabloid fascination and a queen of shoes. Late of New York- and before that, of London- she arrived here after a bankruptcy shuttered her first attempt at a Tamara Mellon label. Now she is giving the label another go of it. After years on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Mellon moved into the palatial home of her partner Michael Ovitz- a founder of CAA, the talent and entertainment agency. Though it shares a name with her previous iteration, Tamara Mellon is technically a new company. She founded its predecessor in 2013, having left Jimmy Choo both very rich and very successful- she sold her stake in the company, which she founded with the Malaysia-born, London-based cobbler who gave it its name, for an estimated $135 million in 2011. With the Mellon brand, she aimed to shake up the industry by delivering shoes and, for the first time, clothes closer to the time one may conceivably want to wear them: winter clothes in the winter, spring clothes in spring. It was, in other words, an early version of the “buy-now, wear-now” model, however she filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015.
In starting over, Mellon has kept her boho-scandalous aesthetic but reset her thinking. This time around, she is bypassing stores- including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, which once stocked her goods- selling directly to consumers via her website. Hers is a model that cuts out the middlemen and, in so doing, lowers prices- a suede bootee from Mellon’s line costs $525; a similar one from Jimmy Choo was $875. The next generation of luxury brands will not be built the way that she built Jimmy Choo, she claims, adding that the next generation of luxury brands will be built in a very different way, and in the business model she’s doing now. And Los Angeles has been magnetizing designers with a stronger pull lately. Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff and Rachel Comey will each move their usual New York Fashion Week shows here next month. Tom Ford will introduce his next collection here, just as he did in 2015. And Maria Grazia Chiuri, the new artistic director of Dior, will present her cruise collection here in May. But Mellon envisions her operation less as a fashion brand than as a tech company- albeit one in stiletto heels- just like so many others sprouting up along Los Angeles’s growing Silicon Beach. Her new label will test whether luxury consumers, raised on high-end department stores, will warm to an online-only model. In Mellon’s favor are her long track record making, and marketing hits. Jimmy Choo was an early proponent of celebrity placements, and Mellon continues to charm red carpet stylists and their well-heeled celebrities. www.tamaramellon.comTags: Fashion, Los Angeles, Luxury, Shoes, Shopping, Tamara Mellon