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Charlotte Olympia Distracts from the Pieces on Display — Cheeky Shoes and Bags — at First Runway Show

There is something to be said for the traditional presentation format, especially for accessories as detail-oriented as these.
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Details from Charlotte Olympia's fall 2016 show. Photo: Miles Willis/Getty Images

Details from Charlotte Olympia's fall 2016 show. Photo: Miles Willis/Getty Images

It was with high expectations that we eagerly piled into the Roundhouse, Camden's iconic music venue, on Friday night, for Charlotte Dellal's first runway offering of her accessories line, Charlotte Olympia. And who could blame us? For starters, Dellal is best known for her shoes with a sense of humour — the famed cat flats, crazy platforms and bags shaped like hand fans. Not to mention, there's the the stiff competition she faces from fellow accessories brands and regulars on the London schedule, Anya Hindmarch and Sophia Webster, both of whom are regular highlights of LFW; last season, the pair showcased kaleidoscopic choreography and models dressed as mermaids in a laundromat, respectively.

We entered the room, plunged into the pitch black with strains of Philip Glass filling our ears, excited to see the collection titled "The Girl Who Fell to Earth." The show notes promised us that "characters from a 1940s science fiction film noir will orbit around the audience." Perhaps we've been carried away by the futuristic conveyor belt runways seen at Hindmarch and House of Holland in previous seasons, or we were expecting the models to actually orbit around us — or for them to be wearing space suits. Or just, something seriously insane and different.

But what followed was just... A pretty normal fashion show. Models strode out in plain black clothes, some in skirt suits and others in maillots, hair and makeup done up to resemble a B-movie hammer flick, and some sporting hats by London milliner Piers Atkinson. Mostly, they looked exactly like Charlotte herself, with her signature finger-waved hair and bright red lipstick.

The shoes and bags were certainly fun — her signature towering platform wedge was present, this time with a split in the heel to create an entirely new shape. Perspex clutches sparkled and spelled out "GALACTIC," and a glittering leather was used to form clutches shaped like rockets and alien faces. Some leopard print thigh-high sneaker boots felt a little out of touch with the theme, but we didn't have long to be distracted by them before the final model (after Charlotte's sister, Alice Dellal) languished slowly around the audience on towering crystal platforms, wearing a shroud-bodysuit hybrid that covered her face. Were it not for this last piece of choreography, it would really have been a fashion show without any clothes to look at.

Is there an argument for simplicity, for paring back and letting the shoes and bags speak for themselves? Absolutely, and we're the first to admit that often the spectacle of a show itself can eclipse the collection itself. However, there is something to be said for the traditional presentation format, where editors can see the pieces in closer detail; this felt like a show was put on just for the sake of having one, which did the collection itself a disservice.

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