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Charlotte Olympia's Collaboration With Barbie

For shoe designer Charlotte Olympia Dellal, designing a Barbie doll in her likeness has been a life-long dream.

“Isn’t it every girl’s dream to have a Barbie that looks like her?” she asked in an exclusive interview. Now, her dreams have come true. The brand will launch the doll with a video campaign and several human-size, Barbie-inspired shoes and bags beginning Sept. 6. The Barbie marks yet another collaboration for the shoemaker, who has done projects with Havaianas, Agent Provocateur and MAC Cosmetics among others.

Dellal, like many a young lady interested in dolls and fashion, says her fashion career really started with making clothes for her Barbies, some of which she still has. Her favorite past times include acquiring outfits and accouterment for the dolls. She recently bought a mermaid costume in the Miami airport and once purchased 1,000-plus bags of Barbie shoes that adorned pens in her offices and bedecked her personal dressing room where she displays her collectibles. Her all-time favorite, which sits atop her desk, is from a special-edition “Rio” collection. “It was a set of three girls and a couple of Kens in very different skin complexions and hairstyles because everyone can be Brazilian.” The designer, who is of Brazilian and English decent, noted that what is quite funny about this Barbie is her “body shape is different. She has shorter legs, a flatter chest and is a curvier and exotic looking brunette of mixed heritage in a bikini.”

The designer approached the El Segundo, Calif.-based toy maker, which was more than eager to collaborate, and the process involved a visit to Mattel’s headquarters. She was amazed at just how much detail the toy maker was able to inject into the micro-sized accessories. “Barbie was more complete when she had her accessories. I think it adds to the charm of the doll when things are made miniature” such as her iconic Eve platforms or Kitty flats. She was impressed at how there was such detailed work on small scale — down to the functioning parts like the Pandora clutch, which opens. No detail was too small, including the red mani-pedi Barbie reveals when she removes her gloves and shoes.

While the Charlotte Olympia Barbie’s facial features might resemble earlier versions of the plastic fashion icon, her hair and clothes (her outfit is based on a Giambatista Valli outfit Dellal wears), and of course accessories, are all pure Charlotte Olympia. “I wanted people to see the Barbie and instantly know she was a Charlotte Olympia doll,” said Dellal. To that end, the doll features plenty of staples in the British designer’s wheelhouse — the aforementioned Kitty flats, Eve platform pumps and the Leaf sandals, as well the classic Perspex clutch, banana bag and even a mini ceramic Bruce leopard that guards the entrance of Charlotte Olympia boutiques.

The vintage look was also in keeping with her brand DNA. “I didn’t want to modernize her because I went to the era, the Fifties, that inspires my brand. I definitely went backwards.” One of the biggest challenges Dellal noted was editing down the essence of her brand in one doll with a few accessories. Choosing classic Charlotte Olympia items helped her achieve that.

While the designer doesn’t have her next collaboration yet set, she did say this was by far her most favorite. “It was the inner child in me. Who hasn’t dreamt of having a Barbie that looks like you? You want one you can relate to.”

Life in plastic, really is fantastic.