STILETTOS IN A MINEFIELD: “The Towering World of Jimmy Choo: A story of power, profits, and the pursuit of the perfect shoe” (Bloomsbury) lands in stores this week, but it’s not the book authors Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosen initially set out to write. When they began piecing together their proposal in 2006, most of the company principals were ready to cooperate — including Choo founder and president Tamara Mellon, former chief executive officer Robert Bensoussan and Lyndon Lea, a former owner and investor. “We approached them, and they were cautiously enthusiastic,” Crowe said. “What we didn’t realize is that by the time we actually sold the book, the relationship between the three was deteriorating.”
Bensoussan eventually left the business, and Lea, founder of Lion Capital, flipped his investment to TowerBrook Capital, Choo’s current owners, in 2007. When research began in earnest later that year, Mellon and Bensoussan had already changed their minds because it was a project they couldn’t control, said Crowe. Lea was the only one of the three to speak on the record. So Crowe and Maceira de Rosen started digging around Mellon and Bensoussan. One of the book’s main, firsthand sources is Mellon’s estranged mother, Ann Davis Yeardye. “She helped enormously, and she didn’t have an ax to grind,” said Crowe. “She saw herself as the voice of Tom Yeardye [Tamara’s late father] who helped build the business.”
Crowe added that, eventually, “emissaries were received from nearly all camps.” The exception was the eponymous Jimmy Choo, who left the business he founded in 2001, and who signed a previous agreement not to speak to the press about his relationship with Mellon or the company. Mellon is maintaining her silence: She did not return phone calls seeking comment.
— Samantha Conti