May 24 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Charlotte Dellal’s Mayfair boutique Charlotte Olympia is the go-to place for skyscraper heels and unrelenting glamour. She tells us why it’s all about the forties this season.
Can you tell us about your AW11 collection?
It is inspired by Agatha Christie. I grew up reading all her novels, and murder mysteries
have always been my favourite genre of book and film, in large part because they hark
back to the twenties through to the forties, which are eras I adore.
I think you based it on the character of illfated Arlena Stuart-Marshall. How did that come about? She’s the central character in Evil under the Sun, which is my favourite Christie novel of all. It’s set on Burgh Island, where my now-husband once took me for a weekend; I loved everything about it, from the art deco style, to the fact that you have to wear black tie to dinner. Every season I have a pin-up for the collection and Arlena Stuart-Marshall as played by Diana Rigg in the film adaptation is just so fantastic and glamorous.
She’s so over the top that she’s almost ridiculous – she’s tongue-in-cheek but ultimately fabulous, which is just the kind of character I’m drawn to.
What is the first pair of shoes you can remember loving? It must have been a pair that belonged to my mother, she had – and still has – a wonderful collection of high heels, as well as a fantastic wardrobe of clothes. I loved dressing up in her clothes ever since I was old enough to dress myself.
Why did you decide to go into designing shoes? I have always wanted to be a fashion designer, so I did the foundation year in fashion, and then specialised in shoes. The first pair I made were the highest, skinniest heels Icould find at the college – they were black with ornaments dangling off them. In fact they sit proudly on my shelf to this day.
You are clearly inspired by the style of the 1940s – what is it about the era that appeals? It was so full of glamour and rich in accessories. I love the excess of the twenties, which was such a quintessentially English
period – you sense what an exciting and exotic time it must have been given the fact that
people were travelling far and wide. The glamour of the thirties and forties is also
wonderful – even given that in the latter decade there was very much a make-do-andmend attitude through the war.
Is there such a thing as a typical Charlotte Olympia customer? Someone who dresses from the feet up!
You moved into your first store in Mayfair last year. What is it about the area that appealed? Location was important. My shop is central, yet hidden away enough from the bustle of Bond Street.
Do you have an all-time favourite pair of shoes that you designed? It’s hard to choose a favourite, but this season I love the ‘Arlena in Excess’ shoe and the ‘Kitty’ flats.
You have just given birth to your second child. How do you balance working life with motherhood? I have my office close to my home so that I can be close to my babies!
What will you be wearing this autumn? My highest heels! Having just been pregnant, I’ve been wearing flats most of the year.
What are your wardrobe staples? Hats and high heels.
What would you save from your wardrobe in a fire? A beautiful Lacroix dress that belonged to my mother. I have it framed and hung up in my dressing room.
What is the stand out outfit have you felt best in in your life? My wedding dress by Giambattista Valli.
Any fashion disasters? Cutting a fringe, not the best when you have curly hair. Who do you consider to have great taste? My mother; she’s beautiful dressed up and dressed down.
And who are your style icons? My Grandmother Zehava was very glamorous and elegantly dressed every day of her life.
You have a huge celebrity following – what does that mean to you? It’s great exposure, but nothing beats spotting someone in the street wearing a pair of my shoes.
What would you have been doing if you hadn’t been a shoe designer? Probably lingerie.
What is next for Charlotte Olympia... I’d love to open stores around the world.
Charlotte Olympia, 55 Maddox Street, W1S
1AY, 020 7499 0145, charlotteolympia.com