The daughter of Brazilian model Andrea Dellal with a Chanel muse for a sister – Alice Dellal – and family friends including Giambattista Valli and Mario Testino, it can certainly be said that Charlotte Olympia Dellal has lived a life in style, and that’s without mention of her award-winning shoe brand...
Launched in 2008 and at once spotted on the famous feet of A-listers including Alexa Chung, Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Olympia sees old-world glamour brought to life by a contemporary sense of humour to create vertiginous heels and playful pumps that are coveted the world over. We talk fashion, family and fun with the enviably chic shoe 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 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.
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.
My signature Dolly platform is a classic court shoe with a modern silhouette and the Kitty flat is a feminine smoking slipper with a sense of humour. They are both representations of my personal style and design philosophy and a part of the Encore collection.
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 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.
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.
"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."
I think it's important to choose shoes that make you smile and feel special. As my motto goes – the higher the heel, the better you feel! I wear super-high heels, wedges, flats and everything in between. You can really determine your day by the shoes you choose to wear in the morning. If I'm feeling particularly glamorous I'll reach for my most flamboyant platforms, but if it's a day out with my three boys, my Kitty flats are perfect to run around in.
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.
Feminine, colourful, with a sense of humour.