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Interview With: Charlotte Olympia Dellal

What inspired you to become a designer?

I think what drew me to fashion initially was glamour and old movies, which I used to watch from a young age with my mother. I loved old movie stars, I still do. That’s very much the foundation of my brand, the underlying feeling of it comes from my love of old Hollywood glamour.

"I've always loved old movie stars; that’s very much the foundation of my brand, the underlying feeling of it comes from my love of old Hollywood glamour."

You did a foundation course at the London College of Fashion before studying at Cordwainers, what was it that made you turn your attention to shoes?

I don’t think there was one thing in particular but my tutor noticed that I was designing accessories for every outfit I designed; I’d add a hat, a bag and a pair of shoes to every dress that I’d designed, which I don’t think is typical. I’ve always wanted to do fashion from a young age and for me it was the whole head-to-toe look. It wasn’t that I wanted to do just dresses; I liked fashion as a whole. Then I went to Cordwainers, made my first pair of shoes and I was sold. 

How would you describe your design process?

I love the whole process because it starts with a feeling and it has to go full circle. For me it’s the whole package. I love the naming, I take that super-seriously; no one can name them but me. As an accessories designer I think it’s important to go that extra mile with those things, from the names to the final presentation on the shop floor. 

Your design aesthetic is instilled with a sense of humour, when do you know you’ve got it just right?

I think there’s a fine line with everything. I want my products to make people smile rather than necessarily have a fit of laughter or laugh out loud. I definitely don’t want them to be laughed at, it’s more to bring a smile to someone’s face or maybe a giggle, but there has to be a balance with everything. I still always want them to be a glamorous product, not just a novelty piece.

Your mother Andrea was a model, how much was fashion a part of your childhood?

My mother didn’t model for very long after she had kids so it was never a huge part of my life but I remember some photo shoots and I remember her in some shows. One of my earliest memories is of being backstage at a fashion show and I think that’s what made me fall in love with fashion even more. It was the backstage part, the buzz of the creating. You see all of these beautiful shows but it’s the backstage energy that I think always drew me to being in the industry. For an apparel designer they have the show, the music, the make-up; that’s why I try to put as much as I possibly can into how I present the shoe because I don’t have a catwalk for them. 

How would you best sum up your personal style?

I love a ‘40s wave, a red lipstick and a half moon nail, I wear that every day. It’s not just a costume, so to speak, I enjoy wearing it and I wear it on a Sunday even. It’s a part of me and I think that, being a female designer, you can’t help but instil that in your own brand.

Do you find that you get dressed from the feet up?

Many times, yes I definitely do, because a lot of my shoes are wearable objects. I like things that look beautiful on and off the foot. It’s not form over function because I like my shoes to be worn, I have them tried and tested for that reason, but it’s very much form and function equally. I don’t like to sacrifice either.

You have a legion of celebrity fans but is there anyone person in particular you love to see wearing your shoes?

It would have to be my grandmother over any one famous person. I’m very close to my grandmother and it’s fantastic to see her wearing my shoes because she’s an older woman that came from that era and there’s something very special about that. I have a certain style, I like to evoke a certain style through my brand but it’s nice to see my things worn differently. I think those closest to you are the most critical and it’s nice to have feedback from my sister, my mother and my grandmother, who are all completely different ages and have completely different styles. The most exciting time I saw someone wearing my shoes, however, was the first time I saw someone just wearing them on the street. It’s pretty amazing to see someone who has gone out and chosen your product.

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