FASH­ION DNA

Catch­ing a wave with Char­lotte Olympia Del­lal, de­signer of the world’s most whim­si­cal footwear.

Elle (Canada) - - Story Board - By Ava Bacca ri

Meet the cre­ative mind be­hind Char­lotte Olympia.

By Ava Bac­cari

girls just wanna have fun: That’s the maxim sug­gested by the wildly cre­ative shoes de­signed by Char­lotte Olympia Del­lal, who has cre­ated col­lec­tions in­spired by Car­men Miranda, Archie Comics and Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood. “Over­board,” Del­lal’s ri­otous spring/sum­mer 2014 of­fer­ing, in­cludes in­stantly rec­og­niz­able pieces like the Good­ness Gra­cious Reef! booties and some strappy san­dals com­plete with suede lob­sters sub­bing as T-straps. “I love glam­our and I love hu­mour; I can’t see why you can’t have them to­gether,” says Del­lal over the phone from her Lon­don home, sum­ming up her brand’s DNA in a cut-glass English ac­cent shot through

with Cape Town vow­els. (Del­lal lived in the South African city un­til she was four.) The de­signer’s spir­i­tual sar­to­rial home, how­ever, is the high-drama Hol­ly­wood of the ’40s and ’50s. “It was an era that was rich in ac­ces­sories,” she ex­plains. “Women weren’t shy to wear an elab­o­rate hat or walk around with a poo­dle-shaped hand­bag.”

Del­lal is com­mit­ted to bring­ing that play­ful­ness back to fash­ion in a way that makes sense for mod­ern women. “I’m in­spired by beau­ti­ful things—be it an­i­mals, be it fruit— and the thrill of mak­ing them wear­able,” she says. “I’m a col­lec­tor, so I try to make things that I can col­lect and wear at the same time.” To that end, the brand has evolved since its 2008 launch. “I set off mak­ing ex­tremely high heels and whim­si­cal shoes on pur­pose,” ex­plains Del­lal. “As a new de­signer, I thought it was im­por­tant to show off what the heart and soul of the brand was about.” Now, Del­lal’s footwear sta­ble fea­tures “more sober shoes” in the form of midi-heels and flats (in­clud­ing the al­ready iconic kit­ten loafers), while her ac­ces­sories in­clude ev­ery­thing from this sea­son’s cov­etable Gummi Bear Clutch to la­dy­like top-han­dle bags. As the de­signer ex­plains, “It’s eas­ier to turn things down than to hype things up.”

Del­lal has loved shoes since she was a child tot­ter­ing around in high heels be­long­ing to her mother, Rio, a Brazil­ian model. (Del­lal’s sis­ter, model Alice Del­lal, fol­lowed—more lit­er­ally—in her mother’s foot­steps.) Rio’s shoe de­signer of choice was Manolo Blah­nik—in­spir­ing lit­tle Char­lotte to name her dog “Manolo”—but Del­lal her­self re­mem­bers Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo as her first favourite: “He made all of these amaz­ing shoes for Hol­ly­wood stars.”

Del­lal’s path to footwear great­ness started at the pres­ti­gious Cord­wain­ers footwear academy at Lon­don’s Col­lege of Fash­ion— which counts Jimmy Choo among its alumni—and was shaped by stints at Emanuel Un­garo and Gi­ambat­tista Valli. To­day, Del­lal oc­cu­pies a beloved space in the world of play­ful high-end footwear, along with fel­low Brits Ni­cholas Kirk­wood and Sophia Web­ster. Gwyneth Pal­trow wears her kicks; so do Alexa Chung and Natalie Port­man. But be­fore the shoes reach the hal­lowed heels of Hol­ly­wood, there is the fi­nal stage of Del­lal’s de­sign process: giv­ing each shoe a name. “It com­pletes the whole thing for me,” she ex­plains. “It’s like hav­ing a baby—you can’t name it un­til you’ve met it.” ■

Char­lot­teO­lympia’s spring style feast (from top): “Elsa” suede san­dals ($1,495); “Har­low” plat­form san­dals ($965); “StarfishCaviarSandy” suede san­dals ($695); “Nau­ti­cal Pan­dora” per­spex clutch ($1,295); “Ava” can­vas sling­backs ($895). All atHud­son’sBay, the­bay.com.

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