Charlotte Olympia Boutique brings stylish shoes to Hong Kong
Italy used to be the epicentre of stylish footwear, but that is changing rapidly thanks to the Brits, who now boast some of the most wanted shoe designers in the industry. In recent months, British designers such as Nicholas Kirkwood, Sophia Webster and Tabitha Simmons have been stepping into the spotlight with their bold and fashion-forward creations.
Also high among their ranks is Charlotte Dellal, who is the founder of fashion favourite Charlotte Olympia. Dellal may have started out as a glamorous "it" girl in her native Britain, but after learning the craft at Cordwainers and brands like Ungaro, she decided to launch her label in 2007. Since then, her sky-high platforms have appeared on style icons such as Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker and Beyoncé, and she was named Accessory Designer of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards.
Now she has reached a new milestone, with the opening of her first free-standing boutique in Asia at The Landmark.
"We opened a pop-up store last year in collaboration with On Pedder, which did really well. After focusing on the US, we decided Asia was our next target and Hong Kong seemed so right," she says.
"I think generally the women [in Hong Kong] are very glamorous, which I love. They don't have to wait for Friday night to dress up. It's a Monday morning and they have had their hair done. That's my kind of lady. Plus Hong Kong is super cosmopolitan. The mix of old and new inspires me."
Interestingly, her upcoming autumn-winter collection, called Shanghai Express, couldn't have come at a better time. It's inspired by Chinese culture and ancient dynasties, but the final result is a collection of modern styles imbued with Dellal's signature tongue-in-cheek glamour. Highlights include the Great Wedge, featuring a sky-high red lacquer wedge, and the Ming Vase heels, which are covered in traditional blue and white porcelain prints. Accessories include fan-shaped minaudieres, lantern bags with silk tassels and take-away boxes which are transformed into bags with Lucite handles. Many of the styles border on kitsch, but fashionistas will no doubt lust after them when they land in stores this autumn.
"When you see the shoes, especially this collection, they are quite flamboyant and fun. While it's true that I create shoes for a woman who dresses from the feet up, I don't want to overwhelm them. Yes, they are collectibles, but they should also be wearable. Even when we launched the Paloma, which is now our signature, it was such a strong silhouette, but now it has become classic," she says.
Perhaps it was with this in mind that Dellal has launched a line called "9 To 5", which debuts in June. It features a range of classic silhouettes available in three heel heights so that you can wear them any time and anywhere. There are stilettos, block and kitten heels, each one spiced up with modern details like PVC inserts, toe caps or brogue patterns. Of course, there is a leopard-print style for those days you feel like showing off in the boardroom.
"Early in my career I started with statement shoes because I was building a brand. Then I did the flats. Now I am building in between. This [collection] is somewhat workwear, but I don't want to pigeon-hole it. So while there are some conservative silhouettes, I've injected fuchsia and leopard print. I want to make it modern while playing with old materials and vintage styles." she says.
Not content with the shoe market, she is hoping to become a major player in the accessories market, too. She has just launched her first luxury leather handbag line, which offers classic, vintage-inspired styles that are designed to last more than just one season.
The collection features four silhouettes made from leather, croc or leopard calfskin. Each bag boasts gold leather linings, scallop trims, a gold-plated base and hardware, and a mirrored comb for lipstick touch-ups.
"With a luxury bag it has to be timeless. I love to have fun with accessories, but when it comes to a big piece, less is more. Our range is more expensive than designers like Prada, but less expensive than Chanel. The idea was for them to be super luxe so everything is made in France. They are quite different to the bags I play with in my seasonal collection - these are somewhat sober but no less covetable," she says.