Shoe designer Charlotte Olympia doesn’t go anywhere without red lipstick. So it makes sense that MAC tapped her to collaborate on three of them, and sheer lip stains, too. There’s actually an entire mini collection of makeup in the MAC x Charlotte Olympia collaboration, including glamorous items like a gold eyelash curler and blotting papers you won’t want to muss up. As the collection hits stores this week, Olympia shares her love of Hollywood glamour, her go-to nail polish look, and her favorite MAC lipstick ever.
Have you always worn red lipstick?
I always do now. There was a time when I only wore it occasionally, but it all started when I decided to become a redhead about eight or nine years ago. Rita Hayworth is my favorite pin-up, so I thought I’d give red a go. Going red was the impetus to always wear red lipstick. The only time I’m not wearing it now is in my sleep. It’s my signature. And being a red lipstick wearer, you notice it everyone else’s red lips.
When you met with MAC, was there a MAC red that you had to recreate for your collection?
Ruby Woo, of course. Everyone loves Ruby Woo. Every time I asked someone what she had on her lips, it always was Ruby Woo. But now I have three shades. I like to think of them as my blonde, brunette and redhead lipsticks. I’ve been all three, so that’s how I discovered my different red lipstick shades, but really, any hair color can wear any of these. Maybe subconsciously the line came from my change of hair color.
Who colors it?
I get it colored at Daniel Hersheson salon, with a girl called Sibbe who’s made me a blonde, brunette and redhead.
The collection is as gorgeous on the outside as the shades themselves. The Lucite packaging, gold embellishments--even a gold lash curler! These are pieces made for showing off.
I see makeup as an accessory in two ways: lipstick accessorizes you in the best sense, just as a hairstyle does, or a pair of heels, but at the same time—and this goes back to the Hollywood starlet days--makeup dressed your table just as perfume bottles do. It was about design as well as function, which is also like my [shoe] designs. No one necessarily sees your dressing table, but it’s a personal pleasure to have a beautiful item. I’m one to always take my nail varnish out with me, because if my nails aren’t done, I can’t stand it.
What makes you feel worse? Not having red nails or not having red lips?
Red lips, definitely. But it’s a very hard question to answer because it’s very close!
Why did you include a white nail polish?
I’m always with a red nail, but never without a white half moon! I think with age, you try a few things out, then you find what you like and stick with it. And I think it’s that way with every woman, whether it’s a blusher or an eyeliner, every woman has her staple, the thing she doesn’t leave the house without. And it’s more than vanity. It comes from within.
You have these intense lipsticks, but a lot of the formulas are sheer.
I love a polished look, but I also like to be a bit unpolished. I think it looks more fashion modern than throwback. That’s why we made cream shadows that can be built up, but you can also wear them sheer. It’s why the mascara and liner are dark brown and not black, and why we didn’t do a brow product. I prefer just brushing my brows.
And the lip stains?
There are times when a red lipstick is hard to wear, like when you’re swimming with your kids! I actually discovered lip stains at my wedding, I didn’t wear red lipstick on my wedding day; just a stain. I also went back to my natural hair color for it. There was something about being natural for that special day. I wanted to feel like me. Funny, no? Oh, but my nails were red!
What originally turned you on to this retro glamour?
I used to watch old black and white movies with my mother, and that glamour is what first got me into fashion. Those women! Sure, fashion is more than that, but for me, that’s what did it. That whole look is the essence of my brand, and hair and makeup definitely played a part in that.
Do you feel like you were born too late?
Yes and no. I love that era, so maybe I did. I loved when women didn’t leave the house without their gloves and hat. And I love the ritual of dressing up. I love being in a dressing gown, with a whiskey sour on the side, my hair in pin curls under a hairnet and pretending to be in a movie. But the 1940’s weren’t the happiest time ever, so I think it’s more about romanticizing it. I even do it with my leather goods. All my shoes are named after leading women, but my leather goods are named after leading men. Bogart, Brando. I’ve always said, I’d rather have a man on my arm than a woman. It’s a bit playful, but why not? I’m just a romantic at heart.