Charlotte Olympia and her perfect platforms!

05 July 2010

Somehow managing to look prim and rock ‘n roll at the same time in mini black leather culottes and simple black camisole, leopard fur hat perched on her out-turned bob and (what else?) ENORMOUS leopard wedges and a slick of scarlet lippy, shoe designer Charlotte Olympia greets me on the doorstep of her brand new Mayfair shop on a brilliantly blazing sunny day in June. Her shoes have graced the feet of the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Olivia Palermo, Kate Hudson, Gwynnie and Rihanna, and she's built on her success so much that she's just opened her first boutique!

Wowsers! Look at this! The shop is fitted out in very tradition, tasteful style with parquet floors and brass fixtures. However, what Charlotte has for sale in here seems about as far away from the neighbouring Gentleman’s outfitters and chic furniture stores in the rest of the street as you can be! Her ginourmous platform creations, in any colour you like, (as long as it’s electric) line the airy shop. We perch on a chaise longue in the corner for a Grazia grilling . . . .

How long has the shop been open?

About a week. It has been such a busy year for me, because I got married and went away for my honeymoon, and in the meantime the shop was still being completed and wasn’t quite finished on time so we thought we’d just open it as soon as it was ready!


Are you going to have a party?

Yes, we’d love to have a launch party. We haven’t planned it yet though, but it’s certainly on the agenda!

You have a reputation for always being the best-turned-out woman in the room at any event, do you wear your high high heels every day?

Umm, I‘d say I wear heels for most of the day, yes.

What about flats? If you were wearing flats what would they be?

Now I’m designing my own flats – so I can wear them! But I have to say I do like Converse trainers. If you’re going to wear a trainer it has to be comfy – otherwise there is no point, is there? It doesn’t necessarily follow that all flat shoes are comfortable, just as not all high heels have to hurt your feet. I mean, I’m not going to lie and say – look at my shoes, you can run a marathon in them, but at the same time, they are as comfortable as a six inch heel can be.


That’s something that’s often said of your brand – what’s the secret to making such showstoppers so kind to feet?

Its called being a girl designing for girls! It’s not only that you know what you want the end product to look like, but you can keep constantly trying them out and wearing your own protoypes to run around and see where the foot needs support most of all.

How did you become a shoe designer originally?

I took my foundation course and then I went to Cordwainers and studied shoe design specifically. 

How did your signature platforms come about?

They’re really my thing.  I’ve always LOVED high high heels, so I was always looking for ways to get higher and higher. A platform is one way, but I didn’t want my shoes to be like a traditional platform – you know like a solid lump with the shoe. With my platforms, which are slightly recessed, and always in a contrasting colour (originally gold) you have that height from the platform but you still have the beautiful shape of the shoe on top. When I was at college, and putting together my graduate collection, I was very obsessed with and enamoured of Japanese culture and geishas. So that was another route into the world of the platform.

SJP rocking her Charlotte Olympia pumps

Tell us about the shop

I’ve been very particular about how everything is, right down to the stockroom that is so perfect and neat and tidy that it’s part of the shop. Downstairs is also going to be my showroom, for press and appointments, and where we’ll have the new collection on display, while upstairs is for the current collection – the one that’s for sale


Congratulations on getting married recently, we’re dying to be nosy and ask you what you wore to get married and what you wore on your feet!

Ha ha ha! Oh yeah my wedding day was so great. It really was my party. I spent so long deciding on shoes – I made myself so many pairs, but in the end I went for my leopard dolly shoes. I knew that there was no way I was going to wear white, weddingy shoes anyway. Even though it was my wedding day I still wanted to feel like myself. I had a brilliant Giambattista Valli dress with a big skirt that was detachable and a Marie Merci cat hat on my head as well!

Love it! Are you working with any designers for fashion week this September?

As I’ve said, I’ve had SUCH a manically hectic year so far, I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum for next season, and I’m only working with the ones I always work with – Emilio de la Morena here and Peter Som in New York.

Charlotte's shoes for House of Holland AW10

Aren’t you going to work with Henry Holland again?

I don’t know. I don’t know. It is possible that I will, its not decided. I hope we do though. I absolutely love collaborating with people though – its probably my favourite aspect of work. You get to be so much freerer, in a way than you do for your own collection, which you then have to sell. You can really let your imagination run wild!

Well, you’ve certainly inspired us, Miss Olympia! 

Charlotte Olympia - 56 Maddox Street, London W1S 1AY, 020 7499 0145

- Naomi Attwood 


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