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Shoe Star

British designer Charlotte Dellal brings her boutique Charlotte Olympia to OC

Charlotte Dellal poses with “Bruce,” the leopard mascot of her boutiques.

The glamour of old Hollywood movies like Rita Hayworth’s “Gilda” inspired Charlotte Dellal, the award-winning designer of the fanciful luxury brand Charlotte Olympia, to take up a career in fashion. Since Dellal launched her first line of island platforms in 2008, her distinctive blend of Italian-made craftsmanship and vampy design have become a favorite of modern stars, including Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker. But when this British-Brazilian made her first trip into Orange County to inaugurate her newly opened store in South Coast Plaza, she discovered there’s no romance in fighting traffic on the 405. Fans waited for an hour to meet and greet the woman behind such whimsical creations as crystal Kitty flats ($2,300) and Head Over Heels stiletto platforms ($1,195). No wonder her motto is, There’s no business like shoe business.

Coast: What’s the best shoe of yours to wear while you’re sitting in traffic?
Charlotte Dellal: The Kitty flats. They keep you dressed up when you’re dressed down.
Coast: How do these sumptuous designs fit into coastal casual, where elegance can mean wearing both Fendi and flip-flops?
CD: I know there is a casual element here, but everyone in the world loves a bit of glamour in their lives. I think wearing anything is with an attitude, so whether you want to make it casual or not or how you dress it, it all comes down to the person. It’s the same as something sexy – it’s not necessarily the item, it’s the woman herself.
Coast: What do you consider the most overrated virtue – at least in fashion?
CD: Well, I think trends are the most overrated things in fashion. I’m not one to follow them, and I don’t think anyone should follow them, because we are all different. Fashion is about finding your own identity, so I think being on trend is probably the most overrated virtue – if you can call it a virtue.
Coast: You once told British Vogue that you always feel excited opening stores. You have 10 at this point, from Dubai to Hong Kong, London and now Orange County. Do you still get a thrill?
CD: I do! I like to tell a story with my collection, and I change that every season. It’s nice to have a mood for your collections – the music, scented candles, lighting – that otherwise wouldn’t be available in a department store. Here I can show the collection how I envisioned it to be seen.
Coast: What do we need more of here?
CD: I’m not going to say sunshine. I guess in a hot city, it’s hard to not be casual. This is my first time in this part of Southern California – I’ve been to L.A., Beverly Hills, but not Orange County. I think everyone needs a bit more nostalgia. Maybe embracing a bit more of that old glamour, because here is where it started. But from what I see, women are pretty glamorous, at least in this part. Look! [She points to a group of women entering the store.] People are showing up in high heels!


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