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Jimmy Choo Creative Director Sandra Choi on Ballet and Beautiful Heels

When you want to know, you go straight to the top of four inches of smoky suede.

Upon seeing the elegant and sometimes edgy styles in the fall ’15 Jimmy Choo shoe and handbag collection, and upon understanding that behind them were the magical stage lights of world-class ballet, we couldn’t help wanting to learn more about creative director Sandra Choi’s inspiration.

We chatted via email with the Isle of Wight–born, Hong Kong–educated designer about her favorite dancers, how she wears these styles and the enduring allure of the ankle.

The Thread: Ballet is the chief inspiration behind the fall ’15 collection; if you could snap your fingers and be in any theater at any time in the history of ballet, who and what would you be watching?

Choi: The two dancers I would love to see perform are Carlos Acosta and Sylvie Guillem. I love both of these dancers, as they are trained principally in ballet but have developed and intertwined contemporary dance into their performances. I really admire Sylvie’s grace, beauty and style.

The interplay between ballet and bondage is one of your key conceptual elements; the ankle figures prominently. What are your favorite silhouettes for highlighting this often-underestimated part of the body?

Midi skirts, culottes and cropped trousers are all great go-to pieces for showing off the ankle and a fabulous shoe. I pair culottes with the block-heel suede and elastic Moira or sharply tailored cropped trousers with the lace-up Hoops. For evening, my current favorite is the ultrafeminine Lilyth, which I would style with a voluminous midi dress that enhances the drama of the oversized ankle bow.

lilyth

Jimmy Choo Lilyth

moira

Jimmy Choo Moira

The ballet flat is already an integral part of many women’s wardrobes; which one shoe style is next up for that must-have footwear short list?

My must-have is the Doma boot with its distinctive chunky heel, fashion buckle detail and voluminous over-the-knee silhouette–it adds drama and a fashion edge to any outfit. For the weekend, the Hart chunky-heel ankle bootie is a classic but fresh silhouette which I’d pair with a Rebel crossbody satchel.

rebel

Rebel crossbody

Tell us about the key colors of the collection: How do the tones play off ballet pink? What role does pink play—is it innocent and sweet here, or does it represent something else? How do the other shades and tones interact?

The colour palette for this collection spans from nude tones to grey mist, navy and black with decadent depths of red and teal. Dusky ballet pink in elaphe or suede contrasts with a smoky palette and deep red, adding a dark, sensual edge to the collection and alluding to the prettiness of ballet with its hidden trappings of discipline and strength. Bags also play with the swaths of pink, such as the Alara clutch in glossy elaphe or the Riley tote in a dusky degrade python.
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Riley tote

There’s an interesting connection between dancers and tough girls, the ballet vs. the biker’s wide-open landscape. Who are the fashion and style icons that inform this complex woman?

Women who balance beauty with strength and portray this in their style include Tina Chow, Alexa Chung, Françoise Hardy and Rooney Mara. They play with pretty and feminine elements but sharpen them with a tougher, confident edge.

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—Laura Cassidy