Tag Archives: Jimmy Choo

A Changing Social Scene

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From the Editor’s Desk

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Many may not agree with me that Ipoh is experiencing a gradual change in its social landscape. Although the transformation is subtle the change is a welcome sign. This one time sleepy hollow, which has gone into a prolonged hibernation after the demise of the tin industry in the early 1980s, is beginning to come alive. Unfortunately, many are still in denial not wanting to see the positive side of things. The prophets of doom will, as a matter of course, have nothing good to say.

The city’s robust economy is being fuelled mainly by the private sector, a phenomenon which was found wanting a few years ago. Investments by private entities and individuals, mainly home-grown, is a good indication that Ipohites, who left for greener pastures during the tin market slump, have now returned home, not to roost but to do business. This is not only healthy but also good for everyone in Ipoh.

The rippling effect of the economic boom will benefit small-time businessmen like the ubiquitous hawkers and traders that Ipoh is famous for. Food courts and hawker centres are springing up like mushrooms after a downpour. And the existence of a vibrant suburban community in once remote hamlets such as Kampung Tawas, Bercham, Buntong and Kepayang bespeaks a new-found vigour.

Based on the 2010 census, Ipoh, with a land size of 643 sq km, supports a population in excess of 760,000. Not bad for a state capital that boasts the most number of colonial buildings within a small confine. The city that tin built has gone a complete circle. Or has it?

Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim believes it has and attributes the success to the hard-working and diligent city folks which consist of a healthy mix of races and creeds. Thus the notion that the success of a nation rests squarely on the shoulders of its citizens holds true. Therefore, racial polarity and religious bigotry, as being espoused by some in the ruling coalition is an anathema, a no-go. They will be committing political seppuku if the unthinkable happens.

Topping the list of insensitivities is the action of the Sungai Buloh school principal who confined his non-Muslim students to the school’s toilet for their meals during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Intolerance is a quality so endemic in Biro Tata Negara-trained officers these days. Sadly, they form the bulk of the bloated civil service. Such things never happened during my formative years in my hometown of Parit Buntar in the 1950s and 1960s.

Maybe life was not as unpredictable as it is today. We did not have much to look forward to in terms of entertainment, except for the occasional John Wayne movies shown at the town’s only cinema. I grew up when Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and later, Ursula Andress, were the pin-up girls. We hummed to Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and Cliff Richard’s ‘The Young Ones’. P. Ramlee’s ‘Gelora’ and L. Ramli’s ‘Dara Pujaan’ were our favourite local numbers. Investing hard-to-come-by coins in the jukebox at the town’s bus terminal was the best I could do to honour these crooners.

But that was then, today it is something else. The chasm between Baby Boomers like me and those from Gen X and Gen Y is as wide as the Pacific Ocean. Bridging this generational gap is well-nigh impossible.

Back to Ipoh’s changing social scene. On Friday, July 19, the newly-opened Symphony Suites hosted a talk by world-renowned shoemaker, Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo and Ipoh-born and controversial radio and television presenter, Patrick Teoh. The event was organised by Perak Academy as part of its Perak Lectures series, the 100th since its inception in 1999.

What was most exciting about the meeting of the two ‘giants’ were the liberal exchanges the duo engaged in on the making of Jimmy Choo, a name synonymous with ladies footwear in the volatile fashion world. A Jimmy Choo is worth its weight in gold, literally. A pair can fetch as much as USD10,000 (RM32,000), something beyond the reach of mere mortals like us.

But we take pride in the fact that a humble shoemaker from Penang had made it big in the international arena. And he did it by weaving his magic into the heart of the late Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales. Diana was hooked on Jimmy Choo’s shoes and had several designed by him before her tragic death on August 31, 1997.

Editor's Desk - A changing social scene
Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari

The other was the Policy Talk organised by Harold Kong at his restaurant, St Mike’s Bistro opposite the famous FMS Bar. Harold Kong is a chartered accountant by profession. He is one of the many returning Ipohites who, having made his fortune abroad, decided to come home for reasons of expedience. This former St Michael’s Institution student wants to plant his roots here rather than in Australia and Hong Kong where he worked for over two decades.

Harold’s policy talk on Saturday, July 20 was the seventh in the series. The guest speaker was Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari formerly of Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia. Aziz was a law professor at the university and has written several papers on constitutional laws, something unheard of among our local academia. His assertion that a “country with a constitution may not be necessarily constitutional” is a sad reflection of our country. The fact that our Constitution has been amended over 800 times since 1957 confirms the belief that the principle of separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary in Malaysia is a myth. “That was so until March 2008 when the ruling coalition lost its two-thirds majority in parliament,” said Aziz.

These two events exemplify the many social activities taking place in Ipoh. There are many more, some mundane some exciting. One must have a keen eye for these happenings. Looking up the Announcement column on page 4 of Ipoh Echo is a good start.

 

Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo with Patrick Teoh

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It was a lively evening when Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat, famous worldwide for his exquisitely crafted shoes shared his success story in a packed room at Symphony Suites. In dialogue with Patrick Teoh, former TV and radio presenter and now ‘Agent Provocateur’ the talk was organised by Perak Academy.

Datuk Professor Jimmy Choo with Patrick Teoh

Jimmy, son of a shoemaker in Penang, said that he learned his trade from watching his father make shoes. Jimmy Choo’s break into the fashion world began when his creations were featured in Vogue magazine, catching the eyes of the rich and famous. The late Princess Diana loved Jimmy’s shoes and had several crafted by him. Later they were featured in made-for-TV movies such as “Sex and the City”. The character played by Sarah Jessica Parker was also a big fan of Jimmy Choo. Jimmy subsequently sold his shoe business in 2001 for 10 million sterling and is now back in Malaysia operating his own couture line.

His creations are adorning the feet of royalty, celebrities and pop stars. Sporting a pair of handmade crocodile skin shoes costing RM38,000, Jimmy informed the audience that to get his personalised shoes, clients have to make appointment with him for measurements and return for fitting before collecting them. Not that there’ll be a long queue for his personalised shoes as the number of patrons who can afford his RM32,000 shoes are few and far between.

Patrick, a home-grown Ipoh boy, while not as famous globally, has nevertheless made a name for himself, albeit steeped in controversy. The infamous incident of him planting a kiss on the cheek of a lady, live on TV3, caused him his job many years ago while recently Patrick was working with a radio station in KL but was shown the door, post haste. The Information Minister then felt that having him on air was a bad influence on listeners, as GE 13 was around the corner.

When Patrick asked Jimmy what other names he had in mind for his shoes the reply was, “One of them was Lucky Shoe”. Had Jimmy used that name he would be known today as “Datuk Professor Luck Shoe”.

Jimmy has received many awards, the latest being “World’s Most Outstanding Chinese Designer”. He is Ambassador for Footwear Education at London College of Education and a spokesperson for the British Council in their promotion of British Education for foreign students.

“Will there be another Jimmy Choo?” asked Patrick. “Not likely,” said Jimmy. “Youths today don’t like to work hard. They prefer to seek success the easy way.”

On coming home to Malaysia, he said “Malaysia is my home. Malaysians who have made it big abroad should promote their country to the world. I also wanted to spend more time with my family.”

His advice for aspiring young Malaysians who want to be shoe designers is that they must be hardworking, sincere and honest. They must participate in international shoe exhibitions especially those held in London to get recognition.

He welcomed the idea of setting up a Shoe Academy in Ipoh.

AJ

Fashion City

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Plans are afoot to turn Ipoh into a fashion city something similar to Paris, Milan and Mumbai with emphasis on footwear. This complements Ipoh’s thriving shoe industry which has generated much publicity and interest of late. Dato’ Mah Hong Soon, Perak Executive Councillor for Local Government, Transportation and Health, echoed the sentiments of the state government when he officiated the opening of Malaysia Footwear Design Competition 2010 at Syuen Hotel recently.

“Our booming shoe industry will make this possible provided we are geared towards achieving it”, he told Ipoh Echo. Mah hoped that youths from the state would take footwear designing seriously. “Therefore, the shoe-making factories in Lahat, Bukit Merah and Menglembu should be given all the support needed by Ipoh City Council”, he remarked.

Present at the launching ceremony were K.K. Tham, president of the Perak Footwear Industry Association, the organiser of the event and Tony Ting, president of the Malaysian Footwear Manufacturers’ Association.

The competition was not without surprises. The winner in the men’s category was Saiful Nizam Zakaria, 23. Saiful, a student of Premier Polytechnic Johor Bahru, has visual and hearing impairments. His design won him a trophy and a cash award of RM3,000. “Saiful’s victory means a lot to those with physical disabilities”, said Azlina Ahmad, a lecturer on design and visual communications at the polytechnic. “His talents and creativity have attracted the attention of renowned fashion designer, Bill Keith, in Kuala Lumpur. Bill is keen on having him on his team”, Azlina revealed.

The prizes were given away by internationally acclaimed fashion shoe designer, Dato’ Jimmy Choo.

RM

Empress Janet’s Royal Banquet

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Seated: Michelle (l), father (middle) & mother Datin Janet Yeoh (r) with other family members
Caroline (right) with Datuk Jimmy Choo

It was a night of glamour and revelry as some of Ipoh’s glitterati dressed up to celebrate Datin Janet Yeoh’s 70th birthday at the Tower Regency Hotel. Themed ‘Empress Janet’s Royal Banquet’ guests were invited to come dressed as Princes and Princesses of the world. Datuk Michelle Yeoh graced the occasion to celebrate with her mother but her poor fiancé Datuk Jean Todt was grounded by the ash cloud in Europe. Datuk Jimmy Choo of designer shoe fame also came by, albeit for a brief appearance. Caroline Wong was selected best dressed Princess of the evening in her captivating red gown and Cheng Hao Nam the best dressed Prince. A live band entertained as guests danced and ‘karaoked’ through the evening.