Tamara Mellon On Jimmy Choo, Mr Mellon Head And Her Therpay Bashing Mother
IN My Shoes: a Memoir by Tamara Mellon with William Patrick, tell the story if the woman who helped Malaysian cobbler Jimmy Choo become a to-die-for brand of the well-heeled. The book might be subtitled Putting Leboutin (geddit?) because Mellon has a few bon mots about her business partners and lovers.
A few highlights from her chat with the Times’s Stefanie Marsh:
“In the New Year. I will give interviews and talk about the MONSTER Private Equity has become and the VULTURES that operate in it.”
La Mellon is absolutely rolling in monster money ever since the PE vultures gave her loads of it for Mr Choo’s label. She added:
“Looking forward to revealing my experience of private equity’s abhorrent greed.”
When is greed not abhorrent?
Writes Tamara of her ex-husband Matthew Mellon, now toiling as Chairman of the New York Republican Party’s Finance Committee.
“I was in the office every day, working very hard and Matthew had nothing but free time on his hands, and I’d come home and find him freebasing in the kitchen.”
How’s that political career coming along, Matt, which is, incidentally, something you wipe your shoes on?
“I’m past the point of caring. For me, telling the truth has been so important because I had to keep so many secrets when I was young. It’s such a relief to tell the truth and not have any shame… When you grow up in that kind of alcoholic environment, you have a lot of shame about who you are, about your family – you think that everybody else is better than you. And now I just have no shame.”
The mega-rich are so very self-limiting.
Mellon was still living in her parents’ Belgravia basement when she landed a job at Vogue; simultaneously she started taking lots of drugs at nightclubs with people such as Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Her mother’s “greatest perversity”, Mellon says, “was in watching me follow the same path of chemical dependency and never saying a word”.
Do we like Tamara’s mum?
“I wanted other women to read this because, having done the research on this, what happens to young girls when they have a narcissistic mother is they take one of two paths. They either go down the road of drug addiction or they become over-achievers and that’s it. And so if I could help anyone by telling my story, that’s what I wanted to do.” When Tamara rang her mother to tell her she was in rehab, her mother said, “This is not our cup of tea,” and hung up.
From a distance, that’s pretty much the best assessment of the therapy industry we’ve heard for a while.
Back to 1995. Tamara’s been sacked from Vogue and is just out of rehab. How is our young formerly cocaine-addicted jobless heroine going to make it, we wonder. She knows all about Jimmy Choo – he makes shoes on commission for fashion shoots and famous people such as Diana, Princess of Wales. Mellon – driven by the fear of remaining under her mother’s thumb or else “giving her the satisfaction of seeing me wind up in a council flat” – makes her way east to Choo’s “hideous little workshop in Hackney” and eventually proposes they go into business together. But she can’t get any backers. Dad steps in and loans her £150,000. Jimmy Choo is born: the first boutique opens in Knightsbridge in 1996.
On the actor Christian Slater, with whom she became involved:
“Christian had very traditional views and had set himself up as something of an authority on child-rearing, having been instructed on the virtues of ‘tough love’ by the South Carolina girlfriend from his entourage back in LA. She considered herself an expert because she’d done some baby-sitting in high school
She says Slater told her off for being too “cuddly” with her daughter – wait for it… – Araminta. No. Not Alan Minter. Araminta.
On the Private Equity types:
“They’re very narcissistic people, greedy and couldn’t care less about the other people around them. And they will steal their accomplishments, rape their bank accounts. They don’t care. Greed is probably the biggest issue that I came across. It’s in the nature of what they do – because they want to exit the business in two to three years they will do everything to increase margins: one person doing the job of two. Quality goes down. They don’t care about the business because they will be gone in two years. I heard them saying, sitting in board meetings when we would talk about an issue, they would say, ‘That’s the next guy’s problem.’ They didn’t make me rich. I would argue the opposite: I made them rich.”
“The way I thought about Matthew was that I didn’t write about anything that wasn’t already public because I have a lot of compassion towards Matthew, and no one can really understand how hard his fight is.” Doesn’t she worry that even repeating in a book things that have already been in the public domain might make life more difficult for him? “No. I hope that people feel compassionate towards him, because I did have friends in the past who couldn’t understand why I didn’t hate him. Hopefully after reading this book they’d have a little bit more understanding and compassion.”
Good luck with that…
Is she a bitch?
“No I don’t think so. That’s one of the myths that I want to dispel about a woman who is successful. Someone asked me the other day, ‘You’ve made so much money, do you think you’re being a victim?’ And I thought, what has gender discrimination got to do with how much money I’ve got in the bank account? Why shouldn’t I be able to voice those issues just because I’ve made money?” To clarify: “I don’t think I’m a bitch. I think I’m a very compassionate person and I like everyone around me to be happy.”
Buy the book here.