With her penchant for mixing old school Hollywood glamour with a playful sense of humor—think animal-inspired footwear and kitschy looking minaudières—it’s no surprise that Charlotte Olympia’s shoes are a fashionista’s dream. We speak to the British shoe designer and style icon on her inspirations and commitment to glamour.
Since exploding onto the fashion scene in 2008, your brand has been going from strength to strength. How do you maintain your creative flair for each new collection?
Charlotte Olympia (CO) The essence of Charlotte Olympia comes from my love of a bygone era so I am constantly inspired by Old Hollywood glamour. I love collecting beautiful objects so many of my more elaborate designs are pieces that can be worn, but also look fabulous on display. I enjoy working with colour and texture and travel is a big part of my life so I am also constantly looking at different surroundings around the world.
Celebrities all over the world are fans of your designs. Who would be your dream icon to be spotted in a pair of Charlotte Olympia heels?
CO I love old movie stars and pin-ups from the 1940's and 50's so I would have loved to see Rita Hayworth dancing in my shoes.
We understand you are expecting your fourth child—congratulations! How are you preparing for motherhood this time around?
CO I am making sure that I am working more efficiently so that collections are designed ahead of time. In the past, it was standard practice to bring my babies with me to the studio to finalise collections or do casting for presentations. However, this one seems to have better timing because it's due before Christmas and not before fashion week!
Can we expect to see more children’s collections in the future inspired by your new addition?
CO 'Incy' is a collection of miniature signature Charlotte Olympia styles for kids and the collection have grown organically over the years. However, there are new playful styles being added each season.
What can we expect to find in your new boutique at Bicester Village? Will there be a chance to purchase styles from your signature Kitty collection?
CO There will be plenty of styles and silhouettes, from my signature high heeled platforms and colourful pumps to my trademark feline flats and sneakers. There will also be a selection of handbags, playful clutches and small leather goods.
Your designs are extremely unique to your brand, in particular ‘the Island’ platform. Do you feel you should sacrifice comfort over style or is it as important that you design a shoe that can be worn all night long?
CO I design with both form and function in mind. I am woman designing for other women so I try on all my designs to make sure they fit correctly and 'walk' well. It's very important to me that the shoe looks beautiful on and off the foot, but paramount that it can be worn regardless of heel height.
Have you got any exciting collaborations on the horizon similar to your recent Spider-Man inspired capsule collection?
CO Next year will be the brands 10 year anniversary so there will be several exciting projects to help us celebrate including re-releasing past favourite shoes and bags.
How would you describe your style and do you ever have a jeans and trainers day?
CO When getting dressed I always like to make an effort whether it's Monday morning or a Friday night. I have my hair set in 1940's waves once a week and never leave the house without my red lipstick, it's my secret weapon, even when I have an 'off' day it has the power to make me feel a little more glamorous; that and a great pair of shoes!
How important do you think it is to accessorize an outfit? Would you say less is more or more is more?!
CO I love accessories, not just shoes and bags, I collect hats, gloves, hosiery and costume jewellery because they can instantly change an outfit. I often hear myself saying 'more is more', but the beauty of accessorising is that you can always take something off if it doesn't feel right, in which case sometimes less is more.
You travel the world and can speak 3 languages. Is there a pair of shoes and handbag that you would always pack in your suitcase to suit any occasion?
CO I always pack my signature transparent Pandora perspex clutch bag because it goes with anything and everything, a great pair of flats that you can wear day and night and a fabulous pair of heels to dress up for the unexpected.
Which is your favourite piece from your 2018 S/S collection, and why?
CO ‘Arielle’ mule is special, it’s very old school glamour with white terry cloth straps embellished with pearls and a pink lucite shell heel; I dream of wearing them by the pool in Palm Springs with the ‘Dive in!’ Clutch bag.
And now for a round of quick-fire questions on Charlotte Olympia's favourite things.
How many shoes do you have?
CO Too many! I sample all my shoes in my size so technically I have a pair of every shoe I’ve ever made.
What’s your favourite book?
CO Agatha Christie is my favourite author; I have read and re-read all of her books.
What’s your favourite holiday place?
CO My mother is Brazilian so I enjoy visiting Rio de Janeiro whenever I can, it's my home away from home.
What’s your favourite sport?
CO Boxing, I have one on one sessions to keep fit and learn a new sport.
What’s your favourite movie?
CO I have always enjoyed old movies, Gilda starring Rita Hayworth is a favourite.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
CO Dock Kitchen on Kensal Road is my favourite local restaurant, delicious food inspired by countries and spices from around the world; every week the menu changes.
What’s your favourite food?
CO I love Japanese food
What’s your favourite flower?
CO Tulips especially parrot tulips in very large quantities.
Who’s your favourite artist, and why?
CO I love a broad range of artists including Kees Van Dongen and Louise Burgeois. I especially love photography by Guy Bourdin.
Who’s your favourite fashion designer, and why?
CO Emilia Wickstead and Temperley make dressing up fun, whilst Isa Arfen, HVN and The Vampires Wife make up for many of my wardrobe staples, if I like a style I tend to get it in every colour!
Charlotte Olympia is now open at Chic Outlet Shopping® Bicester Village in London.
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