When I speak to Jimmy Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi, she is buzzing with excitement. It is the early hours of the morning before the great unveil of Claridge’s 2022 Christmas Tree, and she is this year’s guest designer.
It is a tradition that has been upheld each year (apart from 2021, thanks to Covid) since John Galliano first did it for Dior in 2009.
“The realisation really happens on the ground,” she says. “I popped in last night, after putting the kids to bed, and it looks mesmerising. Like immersing yourself into a jewel.”
The design, named ‘The Diamond’, is a great glass-paned iron structure which comes in the rudimentary silhouette of a Christmas tree complete with a pink neon bow glowing on top. It sits, pride of place, by the twisting stairs in Claridge’s grand lobby.
“It was a challenge not to do something obvious,” Choi continues. “We use crystals all day long, and the glamour aspect is in everything we do. How do we come about that in a tree?”
It was an intimidating job with a rich history – Karl Lagerfeld did 2017’s, Diane von Furstenberg was behind 2018’s and Christian Louboutin was responsible 2019’s, for a start – so she first enlisted some help. “Making shoes is my forte. Making a tree or a set is something completely different,” Choi says. “The most important thing is the deliverables. So I made a few quick phone call to a trusted friend and Simon Costin [the art director, set designer and long time collaborator of Alexander McQueen] was recommended. He was the guy I trusted to collaborate with,” she says.
Simon took the brief away, and came back with a concept that made Choi smile. “It’s quite clever, I have to pay tribute to the team,” she says now. “When you first see it it’s a little bit structural, and bit quiet. You kind of go, ‘oh’. But it comes alive when you step inside.”
Is it as glamorous as a sparkling pair of Choos, I wonder? “When you step in, it’s just like putting a pair of shoes on. There’s attraction, and then that secret ingredient. When you want to submerge yourself in the middle of the jewel, the magic happens.”
Claridge’s General Manager Paul Jackson is just as delighted with this new acquisition. “Christmas is always a truly magical time of year for us here at Claridge’s and this year, we look forward to seeing guests and visitors step inside Jimmy Choo’s sparkling world,” he says.
Choi doesn’t spend many Christmases in London, she prefers to travel and be treated abroad, but she still has a top festive tip for those staying in the city. Visit her tree, naturally. But also go exploring on Christmas Eve.
“I did it once, and it was wonderful,” she says. “It’s like you are in London on your own, you can actually go places and the queues die down. It’s you, the city, and the lights lit up.”
Here is every tree that has come before at Claridge’s:
Kim Jones for Dior, 2022
Kally Ellis for McQueen’s, 2020
Christian Louboutin, 2019
Diane von Furstenberg, 2018
Karl Lagerfeld, 2017
Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson, 2016
Christopher Bailey for Burberry, 2015
Dolce and Gabbana, 2014
Dolce and Gabbana, 2013
Kally Ellis for McQueen’s, 2012
Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, 2011
John Galliano for Dior, 2010
John Galliano for Dior, 2009