profile: charlotte olympia

At first sight, Charlotte Olympia Dellal looks like a retro mermaid, with her 20's style curls, deep red lipstick, seashell jewelry and long leaf-print fishtail gown.  She is the childhood barbie fantasy of dressing up that gorgeous girl in all of the most kitschy clothes and accessories you can find, and yet she somehow manages makes it look so effortless.  This seems to be a design theme that Charlotte repeats every season for her Charlotte Olympia line: taking kitsch references and turning them into something desirable.  While she was in town to fete the launch of her new collection of shoes, handbags and jewelry at On Pedder, we had the lovely opportunity to have a chat to her, along with some of our blogger friends, Denise from SuperWowOMG and Christina from HKFashionGeek.  We found her to be incredibly warm and effusive, happily divulging her eccentric tastes and eagerly sharing details of her family life.  The poor PRs tried to get her to wrap up our conversation four times before she consented and moved on to the next.  She has that incredible ability to make you feel like the one who is important, listening intently to your questions, kindly addressing your concerns and laughing at all your jokes.  Just like her designs, she has an uncanny knack for making you smile.  

With Charlotte Olympia (left) at On Pedder.

She says adorable things like, "I've got a pair of shoes that I say mermaids would like to wear ... if they had feet.  The 'She Sells Sea Shells' one; the one with all the shells, the really kitsch one."  In fact, our conversation reverted back to the topic of mermaids about a dozen times over.  She's the kind of English girl whom you can have over for a prim and proper tea, but the conversation would undoubtedly turn to some whimsical topic, brought up by Charlotte herself. 

On things she likes to collect ...
"I'm someone who likes to collect stuff.  I'm a big collector of random stuff.  I'm really into my home at the moment, so I would like a leopard print rug in my dressing room.  I would also like -- ah!  I would like a hairdryer.  One of those old ones [the ones that go over your entire head].  I want one in my dressing room, because I think it would be a good focal point, and I'd actually use it!  So I want one of those ... in pink!  You can find anything online.  What's the last thing I bought online?  My mermaid coffee table.  I've got lots of spiderwebs, mermaids, leopard -- when you put them all together, it kind of works."

On how she would define someone she thinks is 'cool' ...
"I think on different people, it changes.  So I think, you know -- I like matchy-matchy, and it's my kind of thing.  Some people might like something I might like, but it doesn't work for me, so I think what is not cool is to try and do something that you don't feel comfortable with.  I think you can just tell when someone's cool.  It might be a really obvious answer, but that's exactly what I think is cool.  When you're not trying.  Effortless."  Charlotte eyes Denise's new dip-dyed blue tips in her hair.  "You know, like, I'd love to rock the blue tips, but I don't think I could."  To which Denise replied, "My sister says this is my mermaid hair."  "It is like mermaid hair!"  Charlotte exclaimed, excitedly.  "Each to their own."

On the amazing visual merchandising that was set up for the event ...
"I told them: I like the rotating spiderweb.  That's really obvious!  I'd like to take it home with me." Most would stop there, but Charlotte couldn't help but crack a joke about her baby, saying she could strap the newborn to it and it could be his version of a rocking chair.  It's comments and jokes like these that make us appreciate the wonderful imagination Charlotte has.  It's a combination of childlike wonder and the confidence of a grown woman, both in equal parts, working together to create the magical whimsy in her life and in her designs.  "I like to do things one the side of kitsch," Charlotte said.  "On the good side of kitsch."


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