Saturday, January 8, 2011

What’s With the UK’s Fascination With Olivia Palermo?

Yesterday the UK’s Daily Mail posted one of their standard non-stories about a celebrity, built up around some photos. It secured the top spot on the paper’s website, so you’d assume the celeb story was about an A-lister. Not so. Olivia Palermo of all people, in her bikini with her boyfriend, had garnered the lead story spot. “Far away from The City: Reality TV star Olivia Palermo puckers up with model boyfriend as she shows off bikini in St Barts,” the headline blared.
Across the pond, Palermo seems to have become more of a celebrity than she is back here. She’s been a fixture for several seasons now at London Fashion Week, sitting front row at Topshop Unique and Richard Nicoll, she snagged the cover of Tatler which ran with the headline “Girl of the Year,” she was one of Vogue UK’s “Today I’m Wearing” style diary girls, and was the face of Freda for Matches, the upscale UK boutique chain.
So why all the fuss? “Most press over here first met her when she was the face of Freda for Matches at LFW in February 2010,” says Sasha Wilkins, a British fashion editor who pens the blog Liberty London Girl. “She was utterly charming, pretty and had great manners…and we all love Jo Sykes, Freda, and Matches so she was launched over here in good company.”
To be fair, even when Olivia was being all underminder-y on the City, her manners were always in check. She was never loud or brassy or outright rude.
In fact, well-mannered is exactly how Matches’ site describes her (with just a smidge more adoration), “The uptown girl became a style icon when she stole the show in MTV’s The City, a glossy depiction of the lives and loves of a set of well-dressed twenty-something-year-olds in New York. She’s sweetly charming with impeccable manners – not to mention heartmeltingly beautiful – with style to match.” Not a peep about how Palermo came off pretty bitchy and villainous on the reality show.
Wilkins explains, “Of course no one in the UK knows about that whole socialite letter controversy from a few years back that first had her hitting Manhattan headlines, so she has no bad history over here at all. Also relatively few people have actually seen The City so they only know her from event photos, where she only ever looks pretty, demure, smiley, and neatly dressed.”
In short, she’s endeared herself to the Brits. “Basically, the English press adore Americans who give London the time of day. They think it adds a frisson of glamour,” explains Wilkins. “I think a lot of British people love to loathe Americans–thinking them brash, bold and fake but Olivia comes across as a pretty and well dressed almost English girl when she is over here, and that gives her novelty value too.”

Click here to see Olivia's spread in Tatler magazine
Click here to see Olivia in Vogue UK’s “Today I’m Wearing” Series
Click here and here to see Olivia in the Freda for Matches campaign
credit -
~Kelli at Hills Freak


  1. i just don't get the obsession with her! she came across as a total BITCH in The City and she's still adored? Even after it was shown Whitney pulled the look for the cover, Olivia still gets a tonne of praise?! I honestly don't understand!

  2. Don't believe everthing you see on reality TV!

    I adore her for her style and how she mixes high and low end pieces. She has a great look and a great eye.

    And lets face it The City would have been a complete snooze fest without her.

  3. she played a great bad guy in The City.
    Unfortunately I don't think she was playing.
    She has great style but she gives me the creeps.

  4. I have to admit I love Olivia's style. She always throws in one unexpected piece which makes her entire outfit more intriguing.
    I believe her "mean girl" personality was just for the show. Few people are that one dimensional.

  5. it's not hard to understand why everyone is obsessed with olivia - i love olivia. i just love her immaculate style and eye for fashion.

  6. Whitney never became the beloved heroine MTV wanted her to be, becoming the next Lauren Conrad. Which is why, for better and for worse, Olivia became the star of The City. Her alpha female persona and her tough-as-nails attitude wrapped up in a very beautiful and fashionable package was for more intriguing than anyone else on The City.

  7. Her style is impeccable (funky yet elegant) and she is stunning. Like many, I only know Olivia from The City and her personality was less then savory on the show. But who knows with the world of editing. Erin post show has been anything but nice while Olivia has been praised for her good manners and charm. Interesting.

  8. ^^Very well said. She has an amazing sense of style and is quickly becoming a trendsetter. I also totally agree that her persona was most likely manipulated in order to create an interesting show.

    However, she does give off the impression that she will be very pleasant as long as things are going her way. (If there is any truth to her less than attractive personality) A part of me dislikes seeing someone become famous for such shallow seasons, but a bigger part of me will compromise my standards to get a better look at her impeccable wardrobe and styling!