By Tali Jaffe
Charlotte Dellal—whose Charlotte Olympia shoes adorn the feet of style setters the world over—made a very special appearance at Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour during Art Basel to launch a new limited edition collection of shoes, available exclusively at Neiman Marcus stores. Wearing a form-fitting L’Wren Scott dress and her own hand-painted Dolly heels, the gracious designer spent a few minutes with us to discuss nail art, shoe art and how the worlds of fashion and art are as intertwined as ever.
Is this your first time in Miami for Art Basel?
No, I was here about seven years ago, but it was a bit different then.
Yes, it’s definitely grown over the years… will you be staying in town long?
I had wanted to make a holiday out of the trip, and stay with my boys for a week, but plans changed.
How old is your youngest?
He’s 16 months.
How do you balance motherhood and your new career?
I guess you just make it work. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve always wanted to be a mother, too. That said, I have a mother in law and a mother that live in town [London] which I think are the key to balancing it all. I’m super lucky to have them both, and I have a nanny. I’m set I’ve got my team.
I just noticed we have the same taste in manicures.
Ah, yes. I always do a half moon.
Do you do it yourself?
Yes, it’s hard to find people in London—or maybe I’m just too lazy to go. I like being well groomed but I’m very lazy.
Has the whole nail craze taken off in London as all?
It has. It has. It was really funny because London was never really like that. America has, like, nail bars everywhere. London isn’t like that. They’re not as well groomed over there, but they’re learning to be.
Ok, back to business. Let’s talk about the limited edition collection.
Well, each of the 100 pieces are unique because they are all hand-painted. There are five different artists featured—Van Gogh, Mondrian, Pollock, Hodgkin, Lichtenstein, Picasso—and 20 of each.
Why did you choose to launch the collection with Neiman Marcus?
We’re going quite lovely with Neiman’s; we’re in 26 stores now. It’s really fantastic for me, because when I started off I always had a clear vision of where I wanted to be and I didn’t compromise on that. I think it’s quite important to stick to your plan when you’re building a brand, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman topped my list. It’s a beautiful environment here, and I really thought my shoes would sit very nicely in Neiman’s.
And how did you choose which artists to feature?
I don’t know. It was very hard… we sort of wanted to choose artists that would be quite recognizable. I wasn’t really going to make something that no one would really know. But, there were so many I would have liked to have done. It was also about this idea of well, if I can’t have a Picasso on my walls, now I can have them on my feet!
Is there one style that you think will have the greatest appeal?
It depends on the wearer. Because it’s art it’s completely personal. And, again, because it’s art it goes with everything!
They truly are art. They are a limited edition of 100 one-of-a-kind pieces. Each one is meticulously painted on a primed canvas. They are not printed in any way.
And do you work with an artist?
Yes, a friend of mine painted these actually. We went to school together, so we’ve known each other for a long time and she happens to be an artist as well—clearly a very talented one.
It’s interesting how much fashion and art have come together.
Yea, especially in the last few years. With that said, it’s happened also throughout time. You have my favorite, Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent and the Mondrian dresses…
Do you take much of your inspiration from art?
I’ve never really gone around saying that what I do is art. What I like to do is create. I like creating things—which I guess for me anyway—on a personal level is art. I have hats that I wear because I love hats but some of them, I have to go back for because they are so nice to look at. No one can judge me on that because that’s my art. I don’t necessarily buy things to put on my wall. I have beautiful pieces, beautiful clothes that belonged to my mother. One in particular is this fabulous Versace suit with a Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean print all over it. I’ve never really worn it and I thought, if I did, it would be a one-off thing because it’s quite particular and special. So, I thought instead of just keeping it just in my cupboard, I framed it in a perspex box and it now hangs on my wall in my house and it’s art. It’s my art and I love it.