Shoe Queen: Interview with Charlotte Olympia Dellal
IN SINGAPORE - Watching Charlotte Dellal speak, smile and move is quite a surreal experience. With her perfectly coiffed hair and precisely-lined red lips, you think you’re watching a modern day remake of a 1940s movie, but listen to her speak and suddenly, like a déjà vu moment, something’s different. It feels modern, yet dated, at the same time.
She’s glowing and radiant, cherubic even, as she glides through the doors of the On Pedder boutique in Scotts Square, dressed in a silver pailette Rachel Gilbert gown and holding onto her Pandora Perspex clutch. Looking at how she carries herself even in towering – Charlotte Olympia of course – heels, you’d never suspect that she ever had a fashion faux pas moment.
But as she candidly confesses, she definitely has had one of those.
“I’ve got really curly hair, and one thing I’ve always loved experimenting with is with my hair, so [my biggest fashion faux pas moment] was when I cut my own fringe. Fringe and curly hair – it was like a poodle,” she laughs as she demonstrates with her hand.
The 31-year-old, who got married to the father of her now four-year-old son in 2010, is one who clearly treasures family ties. Throughout the short 15 minute interview, the half-Brazilian, half-British designer brings up her parents twice – property magnate Guy Dellal and Brazilian supermodel of the seventies, Andrea – and mentions the tattoo on her left wrist that she got with her sister, British model Alice Dellal.
Her grandmother Zehava figures the most prominently in her life though, as she proudly names her as her style icon and inspiration.
“I always say my grandmother is my muse, because she came from the era I loved and dressed fantastically until the day she died. I modelled my hair after my grandmother, because she was one who really lived it all the way,” she shares.
Her love for shoes – she tells us she dresses feet up – and her passion for the glamourous forties are what she pours into her eponymous shoe label, and it shows. Every single pair is lust-worthy and gorgeous, literally the stuff of dreams. How could anyone say no?
You’re a mother, a style icon and a designer. Which role do you cherish the most and how does that influence the shoes you design?
Charlotte Dellal: Well my children are the most important to me so I cherish [my role of being a mother] the most. And originally, I started off making shoes that I personally liked to wear, but now I’m starting to make shoes with lower heel heights and flats that make it easier for me to run around in.
If you weren’t a shoe designer, what do you think you would be?
CD: A hat designer [laughs]. I don’t have any plans right now to branch out into that though, because I think it is important to focus on what my brand is about, and at the moment it is about shoes. I have the odd plastic clutch but it is always to complement the shoes.
Your shoes are known to be sky high yet comfortable, how do you achieve that?
CD: Well I am a woman designing for women, so I make sure my shoes are comfortable from the start. It is very much part of the design process.
I sample in my size, I try them on, and see how they fit, because as much as I love designing beautiful shoes, I like to design shoes that can be walked in, because at the end of the day, the shoes are meant to be walked in.
Not every woman out there is accustomed to wearing heels. Do you have any advice for these women?
CD: Try on a pair of mine, because they’ll be surprisingly comfortable. I think it is all about confidence. Many people say they can’t walk in high heels but most of them probably haven’t even tried to walk a lap in high heels. Or I just say, take them out for a good night out and break them in, because the next day they’ll feel super comfortable.
A pair of heels shouldn’t be lower or higher than…?
CD: I’m not biased with heels anymore but I can say that a pair of heels shouldn’t be higher than 15cm. I think there is a limit and that you should be able to wear them.
Whose shoes would you be wearing if you didn’t have your own designs?
CD: I still keep my old designer shoes – that I used to wear before I started designing my own – in a nice little cabinet I have at home. I’m a big collector and I’m very visual, I love to see things. I used to love Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci shoes. In fact, all the shoes I have are special shoes.
For example, I have the bamboo heeled shoes from Gucci and I’ve got the Swarovski crystalled YSL shoes that look like they came from The Great Gatsby. That’s what I spent all my money on before I started designing my own.
If you could design a pair of shoes specifically for someone, would it be your grandmother or someone else?
CD: Yes my grandmother would be one of them. Rita Hayworth as well, she is my ultimate movie star pin-up. I actually dyed my hair red because of Rita Hayworth.
On Pedder is located at #02-10/13 Scotts Square.
Video by Leon Kiong & Osman Sarip