Charlotte Olympia: "I'm inspired by places I have never been to"
Nataly Osmann

She wore her hair in a shiny, retro wave, while her crimson lips fit with a new-look dress of floral print - Charlotte Olympia, standing up from her armchair to greet us looked like a modern Marlene Dietrich: poised but relaxed, so delicate and extremely powerful at the same time, a woman of contrasts with an unbelievable energy. Surprisingly, the meeting is not in the designer’s homeland London or even in the fashionable Paris, it’s actually right here in Moscow, about an hour after the opening of her new Charlotte Olympia store.

Nataly: Charlotte, so you have a very bohemian, and I’m not even afraid to say it, a celebrity family: your mother - a supermodel, your sister going down the same path, your brother - revolves in the art world…What is the atmosphere like at your home? It must be crazy to have so many extraordinary people under one roof.

Charlotte: There isn’t like one house: there’s my house, my brother’s house. Everyone travels quite a lot. My mother is Brazilian, there’s quite a Latin vibe in it, nobody’s shy, everyone is quite open, we now have a WhatsApp group just for the family so we always keep in touch, sending pictures or sometimes you have little discussions like “where’s my what?”, so yeah it’s funny, it is as normal as a family of six can be. But it’s a growing family, I have my boys now and my brother Alex has his. We are one big international family - my sister in law is Italian-Egyptian, my husband is half English half Persian, it’s an interesting mix.

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Natasha: Do you remember the first trip that really made an impression on you?

Charlotte: I was very lucky to have been able to travel from a young age, I was born in South Africa because my parents were living there at the time, and we travelled to many different places as I grew, so travel is always a memory, but I can’t remember particular things. I went to Brazil for a few holidays, to see my family there. I remember going to loads of different places, traveling is not just a memory, it’s a feeling.

Murad: Well I remember my first trip with my parents very well actually - we went to Disneyland. The kept asking me if I liked it and I was like “Meh, it’s okay” (Laughs) . In truth it was amazing. A moment that will forever remain with me.

Charlotte: I was very lucky to travel to so many different places from a very young age. I love Egypt, I used to go, but not with my family, I went by myself and a girlfriend. Japan is a place I love! Japan is one of my favourite places actually. Have you not been?

Murad: No.

Charlotte: It’s amazing. Japan is a wonderful place, I went on honeymoon there, but I’ve been also back for work a few times. Absolutely wonderful, you’ll love it!

Murad and Natasha: Ohh!

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Natasha: Japan is a dream of ours, one of those bucket list places, but you have to be prepared for it.

Charlotte: Brazil? Have you been? Brazil is always a special place.

Murad: Yes, we loved it. But in Rio we felt this sense of danger, aggression. Nothing happened, everyone was extremely nice, but something wasn’t quite right. Maybe it was because of all the stories you hear before coming there, telling you to be careful and that it’s a dangerous city.

Charlotte: Yeah, loads of people say that, but I never feel it.

Murad: Still we have the most wonderful memories. There are so many places in the world, each so different!

Charlotte: I’m lucky to have many memories of trips, like India with my mom and my sister, coming here is a newer memory, but still coming to Russia for the first time, and with my dad and my sister - the father-daughter trip to the Bolshoi, it was very romantic. Egypt in the summer, when I finished school, because I used to dive a lot, so I’d go diving there. That I think was a momentous trip, the first proper holidays abroad with my friends, and you go with your backpack and your tickets, buses through the deserts. Not so glamorous, but it’s so exciting, you feel like you are on an adventure!

Natasha: What other places would you love to see?

Charlotte: Oh there are so many places! I have different destinations for different reasons, so there are places I’d love to go to with my children, with my husband. I’d love to go on a road trip through America with my children. I’d love to go to Iran, visit it with my husband, he’s never been. I’d love to see more of Brazil, maybe north of Rio. There are places in South America, I’ve never been there. I went to Argentina recently, which was amazing! I love to go to Germany, I’ve been for one weekend in Berlin, but I’d love to go again. One other thing I would love to do is go on the Orient Express: I think you can go to many places, but from London I think you can go to Venice or you can go to Istanbul. I’d love to go and I don’t really care where it takes me.

Natasha: I have to agree about Argentina. Perhaps one of the most unbelievable places where we’ve been - the Iguazu waterfalls (shows pictures).

Charlotte: Oh wow! Amazing! I’d love to see that!

Murad: I remember how we arrived at night, and you could hear the water falling, the power of it.

Charlotte: I’m sure you probably feel it as well, this complete power that you have no control over.

Murad: Yes, it was something out of this world! So, do you know how to switch off while travelling? How to forget about work? Natasha and I have yet to master that.

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Charlotte: A lot of my travel is with work, 2 or 3 days here and then to the next place, which I love. I think the further I am the more I switch off. When you are half way across the world, your schedule is so different, that no one from can bother you, so your phone stops ringing and you can just enjoy the day. And then when there’s no internet it’s even better.

Natasha: The first few minutes you start panicking. The world crushes around you! (laughs)

Charlotte: Yeah, you have that little panic.

Natasha: And sometimes when you try to escape the civilisation, and you go somewhere where there’s no internet, no nothing, and then you turn around and see a Starbucks! That literally happened to us in Hong Kong.

Charlotte: What I found really sad was when I went to Egypt for the first time, to the pyramids of Giza - right in front of it there was a Burger King. I mean is it really the best view? It’s just so ironic, it’s terrible.

Natasha: Do you ever get tired from all that work travel?

Charlotte: I love work travel, I mean it’s hard to say goodbye, but once you are here, you get to switch off, sleep a bit better, things like that. My work also takes me places I wouldn’t necessarily go to. I like doing trips just like the one I did now, Hong Kong - Bankog - Tokyo all in one trip. I’m sure you can do all that with kids, but why would you. They would hate me and I’d hate them by the end of it. There’s always someone from my team with me, and I couldn’t go out till five am singing karaoke if my kids were there. You do different things with different people. Sometimes you remember that you are not just a mum and that’s why it’s fun as well. I love travel, a lot of my collections are inspired by it. But I think 99% of them are inspired by places I’ve never been to.

Natasha: Really?!

Charlotte: Oh, yes. It’s funny isn’t it. I think it’s because you can fantasise about a place more if you’ve never seen it. I like this romantic approach, it allows you to dream a bit.

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Natasha: Tell us about the Charlotte Olympia girl. What is she like, how much can you tell about a woman by her shoes?

Charlotte: There is a brand image, an inspiration, that kind of girl that I love, but I think with accessories your audience can be broader, the same pair of shoes can be worn by me, you, and anyone else with really different styles.

Natasha: What do you think about Russian girls? About their sense of style? The rest of the world thinks that we dress up too much and we are always showing off. Do you think it’s a good or a bad thing?

Photo: Abdul Artuev

Charlotte: I think that Russian girls, women, I think they take pride in their appearance. I was walking on the subway and saw this much older woman, well, we were actually wearing the same outfit and it was amazing. I think they appreciate getting dressed up, and I get it, I love glamour, I don’t leave my house without red lips, regardless if I’m going to the supermarket or not. If it makes you feel good then that’s how it should be. I don’t wear red lipstick just for vanity purposes, for me it makes me feel like me. So if you are saying that this is a trend here, I love to dress up so maybe I should stay in Russia.

Murad: The name of our project is Follow Me. Who would you ask to follow you and where to?

Charlotte: It is my family, it’s definitely my family, I love being with them and I’d go anywhere with them.

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