Q&A with Tamara Mellon

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Just for the record, she still designs heels. It’s just that, in her current fashion incarnation, Tamara Mellon isn’t exactly following in her own footsteps.

The woman heretofore known as the co-founder of Jimmy Choo is taking far greater strides as the head of her namesake luxury brand, which launched late last year. “Putting the needs of the modern woman first,” the line features an array of ready-to-wear apparel and accessories—from cutout dresses and leather trench coats to animal-print clutches and felt hats. Naturally, the brand also includes edgy pumps, sandals, flats and boots. But Mellon’s plans don’t end there.

“I have a vision for so many other different categories (think home and fragrance) that my team sort of has to hold me back and hold the reins,” says the 47-year-old mother of one (daughter Araminta). “I have a whole world in my head.”

For now, the focus is on her existing pieces, which are released monthly based on a “buy now, wear now” model. It’s a structure that defies the seasonal runway timeline and is embraced by both her customers and her fashion contemporaries. Boca Raton spoke with Mellon—in town Dec. 10 for a special event at Saks Fifth Avenue at Town Center—about this latest adventure in an already remarkable career.

Why was the time right to start your own line?

I founded Jimmy Choo when I was 27. I got to the point where I had been through quite a bit. Either I was going to stay with Jimmy Choo, and that would be it, or I felt I was young enough to take a risk and do it again. If I waited another five years, that opportunity probably wouldn’t be there.

Were you nervous about launching a namesake line coming on the heels of something that’s so iconic in the fashion world?

It’s always daunting to start something new, but the excitement outweighed the fear of doing it.

Have you found it difficult to distance yourself from Jimmy Choo?

People still get confused. I did have a non-compete—I took a year off in between. I think that now when people look at this brand, they really see a very distinct difference between the two, so hopefully they start identifying me more with [Tamara Mellon]

What’s the difference between a Jimmy Choo woman and a Tamara Mellon woman?

I would say a Tamara Mellon woman is who I am today. It’s a little bit more grown up. She views the world in a very different way … [The line] is what we call modern luxury. It’s just below luxury, above contemporary.

For more, pick up the December issue of Boca Raton magazine.