Tuesday, March 20, 2012
By Nandita Khanna
Street-style starlet Olivia Palermo and her model boyfriend retreat to Paris’s Le Meurice for respite from the paparazzi—and indulgences both sartorial and sweet.
Even if you don’t know her by name, it’s hard not to recognize the petite Olivia Palermo’s enviable, ladylike style, which is documented on countless street-style blogs. “It’s so important to take trends that you see on the runway and blend them with your own personal style,” says New York–based Palermo from her perch in Paris’s Le Meurice hotel, where she decamped after taking in the fall 2012 shows alongside longtime model boyfriend Johannes Huebl. She’ll soon return to New York and share her show notes, favorite haunts, and most recent finds with the editorial team of her fashion and lifestyle website, OliviaPalermo.com, of which she serves as executive editor.
Palermo epitomizes the idea that you don’t need to wear head-to-toe high-priced clothes to be considered a fashion icon. She’s quick to combine, say, a pair of print pants from Topshop, a jacket from Carven, and a Mulberry bag. Her loftiest purchases are investment pieces she treasures and is photographed wearing—a dress from Dior (“The fabrics have beautiful movement”), items from Giambattista Valli (“He cuts a feminine silhouette”) and a Miss Dior bag (“It’s very wearable; you just throw it on and go”). She continues, “the trick is taking a runway trend and incorporating it into your wardrobe in a way that doesn’t break the bank. I love supporting younger, London-based designers like Matthew Williamson and Markus Lufper. I’ll wear them, as well as some bigger names from time to time, but it’s that mix that is important.”
While the couple is rarely out of the public eye, they treasure the quiet moments alone on their travels—Huebl, with his Leica camera in tow, taking snapshots of Olivia’s much-documented clothing choices—and stealing kisses and adoring gazes when they think no one is looking. “Olivia is really the one with the interest in fashion—mine isn’t nearly as strong as hers,” says Huebl, whose modeling jobs take him all over the world. One can’t blame the couple for carving out time alone, considering a typical week is chock-full of black-tie events, store openings, and screenings.
Yet it’s Palermo’s expertise at striking that high-low balance of dress that makes her a style subject worth studying. Her secret weapon is in the accessories. “It’s a way for me to feel creative,” says Palermo, who just signed on as the face of Rochas’s upcoming fragrance campaign. “Accessories add the finishing touch,” she explains, holding up an all-black jumpsuit from British label Reiss. “Here, I’d create a ’70s-inspired look and add heavy jewelry.” It should be noted that Palermo is just as democratic about her love of costume jewelry as she is about her finds from Topshop: “It’s not about how much a piece of jewelry costs—if it’s $2, well then that’s even more exciting.”