Tamara Mellon, the Co-founder of Jimmy Choo who sold her stake for £85m in 2011, has triumphed over three bigwigs in a US court.
After filing for Chapter 11 protection in early December following underperforming sales at the fashion brand she launched in 2013, Mellon was thrown a lifeline and re-emerged with venture firm New Enterprise Associates as a partner. She plans to start a new e-commerce business focused on shoes and handbags.
Mellon had predicted that her namesake brand would make $74.5m in sales last year, but they came in at $8m despite millions of dollars from three key wealthy investors.
David Ross, who co-founded the Carphone Warehouse, former Tory Trade Minister Lord Marland and Icap boss Michael Spencer objected to Mellon’s plans to steer her new fashion venture under American bankruptcy protection laws.
The trio legally challenged the British businesswoman’s restructuring plans last month and accused her of “mismanagement and abuse” of the Tamara Mellon Brand.
In legal documents it was alleged that the 48 year-old designer billed the company for her personal life coach and driver as well as spending $100,000 (£70,000) on tickets to New York’s Met Gala. It was also claimed that she had taken £70,000 of clothes from the fashion label for herself and her daughter.
The investors accused her of “excessive spending and erratic behaviour” in addition to unfairly trying to wipe-out their ownership through bankruptcy, according to court documents.
A Delaware court ruled in Mellon’s favour however, with an American judge praising her “spirit and sacrifice” in attempting to keep her business afloat.
Mellon said that she was “no Marie Antoinette”, in riposte to the accusations of her lavish lifestyle.
She accused her former backers of “no experience in luxury or fashion or creative industries” and told the Mail on Sunday “they don’t know a stiletto from a Cornetto”.
“I felt there was some misogynistic bullying. I was on the phone to one man and he said “well, run along and make your pretty little shoes.” They wanted to destroy me and my reputation. It was public bullying”, she cited.
Mellon added that overall, she will now be able to “transition our business model to focus on direct sales to customers via online platforms and company-operated stores. We look forward to implementing this revitalized approach, shortening the design and manufacturing process, and further enhancing our mission to provide customers with the fashion they want to wear, now.”