Charlotte Olympia Dellal's

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Not many women can pull off a matching leopard print dress and turban at 10am. Charlotte Olympia Dellal, founder and creative director of the luxury shoes and accessories brand Charlotte Olympia- which now boasts 10 stores worldwide - and mother of three rambunctious boys, is one such dame. ‘I dress up whether it’s a Monday morning or a Friday night. I like making an effort, I don’t see why you should save things for a something special,’ she explains sitting deep into a tufted pink chair at her London office.

Making an occasion of the everyday, Charlotte is the mastermind behind such design classics as the Kitty flat (a velvet smoking shoe with ears), the Dolly (a stacked pump so vertiginous as to make your legs resemble Gisele’s) and the Chinese takeaway evening bag (exactly as it sounds). Her Perspex Pandora clutch has fans in Sienna Miller and Olivia Palermo, and her Monroe single soled pump made it to the recent royal christening on the heels of Pippa Middleton.

A modern day pin-up, Charlotte’s take on old school Hollywood glamour certainly distinguishes her from the crowd of Céline-clad fashion types. It also makes her the perfect ambassador for her own wares. ‘I love the 1940s and 50s. I watched old black and white movies with my mother from a young age and I think that’s what got me into fashion. It was all about the glamour. To see those beautiful movie stars form the silver screen – Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall…I think everyone falls in love with a certain era.’

While her accessories are an ever-changing riot of playfulness—from a rainbow coloured piñata handbag to Carmen Miranda-ready pineapple embroidered heels—Charlotte insists her style is more straightforward than it seems. ‘Ultimately my wardrobe is a uniform of sorts. I’ve got a lot of the same dresses in different prints and colours. It’s high-waisted, wide leg pants, loads of blouses and shirts, quite a few pencil skirts and a helluva lotta leopard print. But it’s the accessories that change. I literally dress from the feet up.’

With a trilingual childhood spent between London, Rio de Janeiro (Charlotte’s mother is Brazilian) and Paris, Charlotte had early access to both the ways and trappings of glamour. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to graft. ‘My parents raised us with a very strong work ethic. My father taught me the importance of a business plan and my parents have always encouraged me to be passionate about what I do.’

That passion was fostered with a degree in product development at London’s Cordwainers College, and soon after graduation in 2008 Charlotte launched her brand with the now iconic 145mm Dolly platform which is embossed with her signature gold spiderweb. ‘I never set out to create a sexy shoe. I don’t think the shoe or the dress makes a woman sexy. A sexy girl can look hot in a pair of jeans and t-shirt. It’s not the shoes or the dress.’ Certainly, many attractive women have since showcased the Dolly including Christina Hendricks, Blake Lively and Beyoncé to name but a fraction.

Charlotte’s favourite leading ladies however remain firmly in the past. Like her heroines Scarlett O’Hara and Gilda, Charlotte is a woman of complexity. While her collections come from dreams and fantasies about places she’s never visited like China, Mexico or the Wild West, she is resolutely grounded in reality and solid family values. Though she’s the image of old-school femininity, she maintains she’s ‘not the least bit girly'. And at the same time as being preoccupied with the razzle dazzle of glamour, it’s authenticity that she craves most. Both formidable and funny, discerning and open-minded, she enjoys these contradictions. ‘I think as with everything in my life, from my shoes to my marriage, there has to be a balance, and often it is between two extremes. But maybe that’s just because I’m a Gemini,’ she laughs.

When it comes to romance, Ms. Dellal jokes it’s about getting in there early – she first met her financier husband Maxim Crewe at the tender age of 14. ‘Really I think seduction is all about subtlety. It’s fine to make the first move, but I probably kept my husband running for a few years. I definitely don’t think I’m one to pounce.’ Her old school attitude also applies to potential suitors, ‘I like gentlemen,’ she explains, ‘I’m not saying that men should do some things and women others, but I appreciate chivalry. I also like a man to let you be who you are – so my man is happy for me to walk around with a turban on my head, no problem.’

She also suggests that when looking for a mate, it’s differences rather than opposites which attract. ‘I think its important to have something in common, but have enough that’s different to keep it exciting. I’m always late, my husband’s always on time. I never like to book in advance, he’s a reservations man. But ultimately we share the same ideas about most things and we compliment each other. You can meet half way but you can never change anybody.’

As for the future, things are looking decidedly rosy. Having hired ex-Jimmy Choo CCO Bonnie Takhar as her company’s President in 2011, Charlotte says she is learning to delegate. ‘To take things to the next level, you have to hire professionals. It’s such a challenge at the beginning when you have such a small team and everyone is wearing so many hats. But at the same time, that’s half the fun. Equally it’s been a joy to watch the business and the team grow. We’ve opened stores and entered new product categories [which now includes a children’s ‘Incy’ collection as well as leather goods, bridal and ‘Encore’, a line of signature classics], but everything has been at our own pace.’ Or more accurately, one 6-inch heeled step at a time.




London Home

'I have a family so my house is very much a home rather than a showcase. I would say it was eclectic, a collection of things old and new, some past memories and new additions. Like my shoe designs, the foundations are classic, but I do like to accessorise. Ultimately you’re building a home with the rest of the members of your family and learning what works. It’s very different now than if you had asked me 10 years ago when I was in my apartment which was much more "me". It’s definitely not modern or old. I’d say it was eclectic, but clean. I think it’s exactly like my shoes – the foundations are simple and pared back, but I do like to accessorise.’

Charlotte on DIY:

'I know what I want and if I cant find it, I’ll have it made. My husband jokes with me that the builder and upholsterer – and the hairdresser – are the other men in my life. If I cant find the sofa I want, Shay at Revival will make it for me. It’s no more expensive then your average sofa anyway. I like the bespoke element and some of the time I have things in my head which simply don’t exist.

Outside my dressing room I have a framed Versace two piece suit with an Andy Warhol print that belonged to my mother in the 80's. That way, I can appreciate it everyday instead of having it stored away in my cupboard.

I love IKEA. You can find great basics. I enjoy adding my own creative stamp and I have many 'dressed up' Ikea pieces that I have reupholstered, for instance. You can't always get that incredible piece you’ve just seen on First Dibs – but the fun is trying to find something similar until you can upgrade.'

Charlotte on Vintage:

'I love mid-century design, particularly the 40’s and 50’s. I’m definitely a nostalgic person and I have some pieces that remind me of my homes growing up. There’s a great coffee table that once belonged to my parents and my vintage wedding cake topper in a little bell jar. It’s those little things dotted around which makes it our home.'

Charlotte on Colour:

'I love colour, but sometimes you do need neutrals in your life.'

Charlotte’s Closet:

'My wardrobe is in my dressing room which is all white and carpeted in leopard print. It’s totally colour coordinated – I’m extremely tidy. I also have a lot of stuff, so I have to be organised. Aside from a lips sofa, the rest of the decoration comes from the things hanging or sitting on the shelves. My shoes, my bags and my hats decorate the room.

I knew you were going to ask me how many shoes I’ve got. The answer is too many! I sample in my own size so my studio is an extension of my shoe collection! I definitely do wear six inch heels, but have three boys to run after so I also have a large collection of flats.'

Charlotte on Entertaining:

'I love parties! I much prefer to throw a party at home instead of going out. I love a theme, which always starts with the invite to get guests in the mood. Recently, I did a Mexican fiesta which made everything a bit more fun and playful!'


Sitting Room

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"I have a family so my house is very much a home rather than a showcase. I would say it was eclectic, a collection of things old and new, some past memories and new additions. Like my shoe designs, the foundations are classic, but I do like to accessorise."
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"I know what I want and if I cant find it, I’ll have it made"
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"I knew you were going to ask me how many shoes I’ve got. The answer is too many!"

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Burgh Island

'Burgh Island is one of my favourite places, my husband took me there for a surprise weekend away when we first got together. It is an Art Deco hotel which is cut off from the mainland at high tide and where my favourite author, Agatha Christie, wrote one of my favourite novels, 'Evil Under The Sun'.

It's particularly charming and you feel like you have stepped back in time; the decor is old fashioned and guests are encouraged to wear black tie for dinner and dancing. Last year I celebrated my birthday there filling the hotel with all of my friends for a nautical 1930's weekend. To make the weekend extra special, I got a M.Poirot look-a-like to surprise me and my guests for tea and parlour games

My favourite destination is Rio de Janeiro. My mother is Brazilian and Rio de Janeiro is my home away from home. The first and last thing I do when I arrive is have a run up and down Ipanema beach followed by a fresh coconut and admire one of the most beautiful views in the world.

Planning is the key to travelling in style. With three kids there is no option. I like to pack at least a week before. I lay it out for a week and then I realise what I don’t need. Ironically, I’m a light packer - I don’t like carting around so much stuff. Pre-children I would only take carry-on and I quite like that challenge of editing down to two or three pairs of shoes. Over time I realise its about packing little dresses that you can dress up and dress down.

I like my suitcases to match. I also like to have a nice big bag that I can actually carry or wheel on.'


Cocktail Hour

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Mermaid Pool

"At high tide, you’re cut off from the rest of the world. There’s definitely a luxury in that."

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"It's particularly charming and you feel like you have stepped back in time"
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Get the Look

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Leopard Dreams


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Top Shelf

'I like to call my beauty look 'low-high maintenance'. I’m certainly not perfectly put together – it truly is deceiving. I have my nails painted in half moons, so you can’t tell when they grow out and I normally have my hair set and it lasts quite a few days, but when it really needs doing, I’ll wear a turban.

I always wear red lipstick predominantly because I don't feel like me without it. While it’s a cliché, lipstick actually is my secret weapon, it makes me feel glamorous and dressed up even when I'm dressed down.

Even though my beauty look is inspired by old hollywood glamour I like to keep it modern by keeping a fresh face with minimal make up. I like the ritual of dressing up – setting my hair in pin curls, popping on my pink hair net and putting on a Chinese silk dressing gown while I do my make up before an event or party.

I spend a lot of time on skin care – its something that my mother taught me from a young age. I can come back at whatever time of the night, but I’ll definitely have my makeup off when I wake up in the morning. I have never, ever fallen asleep in my makeup.

I use a great facialist, Yvonne Martin - I swear by it and feel like new every time.

I go to Daniel Hershesons for my hair. Sibi Bolan does fantastic colour, she's made me a blonde, brunette and a red head. John Hilliard sets my hair in perfect 1940's waves once a week, its an art form no one can sculpt a hair style like he does!'


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Charlotte's Old Hollywood Film List

'I don’t go to the cinema that often, but I do watch a lot of films. Usually it’s old movies I’ve seen a thousand times before – or ones I’ve never got around to seeing.

The last film I watched, What a Way To Go, starring Shirley McClain features some great outfits and imagery.

Some of my favourite movies are Gilda, and Gone with the Wind. I’ve always loved Sweet Charity - I secretly love musicals. Hitchcock, LA Confidential, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barbarella, Metropolis…the list just goes on.

My shoes are named mostly after women, but my leather handbag collection, 'Handbags for the Leading Lady' are named after old Hollywood actors because I'd rather have a man on my arm.

I love watching the Agatha Christie Poirot series with David Suchet over and over again.'




Off the Wall

'I collect fashion photography, Horst P Horst, William Klein, Guy Bourdin, Alex Prager are some of my favourites. Kees Van Dongen is one of my favourite painters, some of my fall shoes and bags are inspired by his work. I love Louise Bourgeois her giant 'Maman' spider is magnificent!'

Forever Yours

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