Reading Tamara Mellon’s memoir, “In My Shoes,” is like wearing stilettos: thrilling and uncomfortable.
Until 2011, Mellon strode around in shoes by Jimmy Choo, the high-end brand she founded in 1996 with the Malaysian couture shoemaker, and her father, entrepreneur Tommy Yeardye.
She was 28, single, living in her parents’ basement and getting over a nightclub-and-cocaine habit.
The business made her famous. Marriage to a man from a wealthy American family made her a Mellon. By book’s end, she’s cashed out of Jimmy Choo for a reported $135 million and is starting a new brand, Tamara Mellon.
The memoir follows the rise of Jimmy Choo and the more interesting tale of the making of Tamara Mellon as she melded society, celebrity and fashion in her own life.
So much bile comes Mellon’s way that I couldn’t help wondering if she had done something to deserve it. She doesn’t admit to any fault or take any blame. Whatever the truth, a life lived fighting people off and feeling alone is sad. All the glamour – outfitting stars at the Oscars, holidays in Capri – does very little for her.
Even her fairy-tale wedding is drained of joy:
“My face hurt from maintaining a beauty contestant’s frozen smile, and I was counting the hours. I had one more costume change, an amazing gray silk cocktail dress from Chloe for going away. Then I’d throw the bouquet and go back to the hotel and cry.”
Soon enough she divorced Matthew Mellon, became a single working mom and defended herself against a lawsuit brought by her mother, who thought she owed her money.
Fortunately, Mellon seems to take genuine joy in writing about her father, who began with nothing, and about how she started designing Jimmy Choos when she decided Choo wasn’t up to the job.
The book closes with Mellon finally claiming happiness, living in New York and dating former Hollywood talent agent Michael Ovitz.