Days Gone By
Known for her kitty flats, perspex clutches and sky-high heels, Charlotte Olympia's first foray into beauty has been long overdue. The designer's first collaboration with M.A.C recently launched in the enchanting Sketch restaurant, London - the perfect match to the designer’s glamorous, old Hollywood style.
Here, we speak with Olympia on her history with makeup, her style and the inspiration behind her evocative look.
How did the collaboration with M.A.C come about? Why beauty now, and what does it mean to you?
The essence of Charlotte Olympia comes from my love of old Hollywood glamour. I love movie stars and pin-ups from the 1940s and 50s and this is reflected in my personal style and in my designs. Beauty plays a big role in my life; my style is defined by my hair and makeup, which is inspired by the glamorous stars from the silver screen. I have always seen M.A.C as a leading global makeup brand and was very happy that they wanted to collaborate when I approached them with my dream project. We both share similar sensibilities, making a great partnership.
What is your earliest memory of wearing makeup and how has your look changed over the years? What is it that drew you to M.A.C?
My grandmother Zehava was a very glamorous woman who never left the house without perfect hair and red lipstick, inspiring my own beauty look. I remember her drawer full of lipsticks and trying them on whenever I visited.
When I started wearing makeup as a teenager I wore a lot of eyeliner. I only started wearing red lipstick when I first dyed my hair red in 2007; this was the turning point in my beauty style. I have always loved Rita Hayworth which is what inspired me to colour my hair and wear red lipstick to complete my pin-up makeover. M.A.C’s Ruby Woo is the perfect matte red regardless of whether I am a blonde, brunette or redhead.
Which moments in your life inspired you to become a designer? Why did you decide to specialise in accessories and shoes?
It was definitely glamour that got me interested in fashion. As a child I used to watch old movies with my mother, introducing me to silver screen classics including my favourite, Gilda. I wanted to be a fashion designer from a young age, but only decided to specialise in footwear during my foundation course at London College of Fashion when one of my tutors commented on my emphasis on accessories when I designed outfits. I then went on to do a BA at Cordwainers learning the craft of footwear and started my own brand soon after I graduated.
Describe your involvement in picking the products, shades and packaging for the collection. What was your favourite part?
I loved the whole process. It has always been a dream to create a collection of makeup. I was very particular when picking the shades and textures, but because I wear these types of products on a daily basis I was clear on knowing what I wanted. I love working with colour so it was especially exciting trying on all the different products to make sure they were the perfect tones. The packaging was a big part of the design process also, not only did I want a fantastic product; it needed to look beautiful in one of my transparent clutch boxes too!
How does this collection fit with your style?
The collection includes a selection of makeup bag staples including different shades of red lipsticks and nail varnishes which would always be found on a bygone Hollywood dressing table. The design aesthetic of the products reflects Art Deco shapes which are old fashioned, but still timeless and modern. The Perspex casing and gold accents are signature Charlotte Olympia features.
How do you compare your creative process for shoes and accessories versus beauty? Were there any surprises?
I always like to create a mood and a feeling to my collections regardless of what the product is. Being a female designer allows me to create from a woman's perspective and allows me to try the product first-hand whether it's shoes or makeup.
What is the one makeup product you can’t live without? Why?
I love red lipstick; it instantly makes me feel glamorous regardless of what I am wearing. It's a timeless classic that goes with anything and everything.
How does your beauty style compare or contrast to your fashion style?
I love to accessorise and sometimes enjoy a 'more is more’ approach, wearing different styles of fabulous shoes, hats, gloves and handbags. However, my makeup never changes; I keep it simple and always have a red lip and a red half-moon manicure because sometimes, less is more.