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Charlotte Olympia Dellal

The British Fashion Awards 2011 Accessory Designer of the Year tells Graeme Moran about her love of leopard print.

How did it feel winning the British Fashion award?

It’s fantastic to get recognition within my industry, especially given the other nominees [Mulberry’s Emma Hill and Katie Hillier for her own label]. I was very happy.

What can we expect from your autumn 12 collection?

The palette is quite sophisticated but the designs have a sense of fun. I referenced Pierrots, old carnivals and the man in the moon. It has an old sensibility with a sense of humour. Georges Méliès’ silent movie, Le Voyage dans la Lune, was an inspiration.

How did it feel to open your flagship store in London?

I have always wanted to grow my business organically and at that time it felt like the right moment to open a store. It was the first and only property I looked at as it had everything I was looking for including the location, which is key. It was a very proud and exciting time.

You are opening your first New York store this February – why did you decide to open it now?

We are currently distributed in around 150 retail spaces worldwide and have been very focused in expanding, especially within the US in 2012.  Having a retail space in one of the key cities is an important platform. I’ve always wanted to have a store in uptown New York – I’m very much looking forward to opening it later this month.

You just released your first pre-collection. Why now?

Pre-fall 12 is an important delivery for retailers and it was time for the brand to offer this based on the strong performance in the main deliveries. This also allowed us to introduce a non-markdown collection entitled ‘Encore’, which consists of Charlotte Olympia classics and the product fitted in with ‘wear now’ aspects of the delivery window.

You’ve said in the past you would never design men’s shoes – why?

While I appreciate handcrafted men’s footwear, I prefer to create things that I understand first hand. Being a woman designing for women, I have some sense of what women want and use that to the best of my ability.

When did you decide designing shoes was for you?

I always wanted to be in fashion but only discovered that I wanted to specialise in footwear during my foundation course at the London College of Fashion. I then went on to get a degree from Cordwainers.

I knew I’d made the correct decision once I’d made my first shoe – it was with the highest heel I could find!

You also design accessories, but what’s next? Can we expect Charlotte Olympia clothing?

For my Spring 12 ‘Sirens’ collection I developed a capsule collection of clothes to compliment the shoes for a presentation during London Fashion Week. It gave people a clearer vision of what the collection was about having the models in head-to-toe Charlotte Olympia; I call it dressing from the feet up! My vision for the brand extends to many different categories because that’s how I think when designing, but I am in no hurry to decide on those yet and I am developing the core business right now.

You’re a big fan of leopard print – is it true you wore leopard-print shoes under your wedding dress?

It’s something I must’ve picked up from my mother. I always find myself wearing something in leopard print; it goes with almost everything. I made leopard-print shoes for my wedding – they completed my outfit. It was important to add something personal and very much part of my character.

You are often inspired by past decades, particularly the forties – what is it about that time that inspires you?

I have always loved old Hollywood and pin-ups and it is very much the essence of the brand. It is a glamorous bygone era that was rich in accessories; women would never leave the house without their hats, gloves or stockings.

A lot of famous women are fans of your designs - who made you the most excited when you saw them wearing your designs?

Whilst it is fantastic seeing a celebrity in Charlotte Olympia, what I find most exciting is seeing a woman on the street wearing my shoes.

Your logo, the web, refers to Charlotte’s Web – why did you decide to use this as your logo?

Because it’s Charlotte’s Web! It’s almost too obvious. In addition to that, a spiderweb can be quite beautiful and is recognised universally. Branding was important to me from the beginning, I have always wanted to build my own brand.

Who do you think are the up-and-coming names in footwear and accessory design?

I love hats and Piers Atkinson makes the most beautiful pieces I love to wear and on some occasions I have bought purely to have on display. They are wearable pieces of art with a fantastic sense of humour. I am also a big fan of Dominic Jones jewellery, his pieces are very strong and very beautiful.

Which is your favourite pair of shoes?

Spring 12

Spring 12

It’s hard, but from my spring 12 collection I love She Sells Sea Shells. Apart from loving the name (naming shoes is a lengthy process for me, I take it very seriously), they’re very high, gold and adorned with pearls and sea shells. Something a mermaid might wear if she had feet! 

  • Charlotte Olympia Dellal is a luxury footwear and accessories designer for her own label, Charlotte Olympia

Quickfire questions

Converse

Converse

What one pair of shoes or accessory do you wish you’d designed?

Converse. They’re classic and timeless and everyone can wear them. When I’m not in my own shoes, I’m wearing Converse hi-tops.

Where are your favourite places to shop?

When I want to treat myself I find myself in Prada (pictured) or Sonia Rykiel. Otherwise I do my shopping online.

What do you think is the most iconic shoe style?

Perhaps the ballet slipper. Its appearance has hardly changed over the last 200 years.

Who would you like to see in your shoes, dead or alive?

My grandmother Zehava. She was very glamorous and from an era I’m very nostalgic for.

If you could wear one complete outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I already have some sort of uniform! On most days I find myself wearing a silk camisole, leather shorts, my ‘Miranda’ wedges, a leopard print hat and red lipstick.

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