Olivia For the majority of us, even those who in the past may have been sweatpant averse, sheltering in place has involved a steady rotation of our drawstring best. In times of great uncertainty, it’s clear that comfort (and let’s face it, not always a sartorially forward version) has taken precedence.
But entrepreneur Olivia Palermo politely disagrees. “I’ve been using fashion to help maintain a sense of normalcy,” she says from her home in New York. “I try to keep the same hair and makeup as I normally would, and yes, the wardrobe may be more ‘casual chic’ than if I was attending in-person meetings.” Her recent go-tos, she adds, have been polished blouses and skirts, a cosy cashmere set, and silks from her own label.
“Of course, I also own items that would classify as athleisure,” she adds with a laugh. “But I reserve them for appropriate activities, like the Tracy Anderson Method (or now doing my virtual sessions) and occasionally walking my dog, Mr Butler. I was taught at a young age that you have different clothes for different occasions (work clothes, play clothes, event attire, athletic clothes, and so on) and I have always lived by that motto to never mix them up.”
It’s this dedication to sophistication as well as her eye for pairing elevated basics and timeless classics (she describes her style as “eclectic, tailored and polished”) that continues to make Palermo a mood board staple, even during a pandemic. “People want to see what she is wearing,” her social media advisor was quoted in a recent profile in The New York Times. So you’ll find no banana bread recipes and Dalgona coffee on Palermo’s page during these times. Instead, it’s a steady stream of pinnable looks—she has further parlayed this interest into her own clothing and accessory lines and her multiple collaborations.
Case in point, a Daily Mail headline from a few days ago: ’Olivia Palermo continues her “safety, but make it fashion” ethos as she looks effortlessly stylish while walking her Maltese pooch Mr Butler in NYC, which delved into details of her cream dress, cardigan and military green jacket. Or take for instance a photo on her husband Johannes Huebl’s Instagram for their ‘Sundays’ post (more on that later), which had a commentator requesting the provenance of Olivia’s cape, adding a sheepish, “I’m sorry if you’re sick of these questions.” For the record, it was an Amédée cape, answered by Huebl quite promptly.
Palermo and Huebl met through common friends at a film screening in NYC (“She asked me and my brother, who was visiting from Germany, to come out for a drink, very cute,” says Huebl) and married six years ago. The couple, sartorial counterparts, are recognised globally for their synchronicity in style, though Huebl says it’s more often than not inadvertent. “It is never coordinated, we just have similar taste and influence each other subconsciously. Sundays are on Sundays, always in that moment and how we feel,” he says alluding to their now well-established Sunday posts that capture them in an oh-so-cute moment, perfectly turned out of course.
At the moment, they, like others, are navigating this new reality. For the Vogue India shoot, Huebl, a well-respected photographer, turned the lens onto his wife. “We wanted to keep the shoot glamorous but relatable. We shot in Manhattan in areas that were not busy with traffic,” says Palermo. And what does Huebl hope for these photos to reveal? “Her combined strength, beauty and elegance.”
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Staying home: “At least one of us is usually travelling, so staying home has not felt like that big a sacrifice. And certainly not one we couldn’t make for the betterment of others. We try to maintain a routine. I do my virtual Tracy Anderson Method workouts and Johannes does his. I have my regular morning smoothie and we use our Nespresso machine to make lattes. Taking Mr Butler for his walks helps break up the day, which is nice, and Johannes has honed his cooking skills to keep us well fed. His meals are so good.”
The future of fashion: “We are all still determining what our needs are going to be, coming out of this current crisis. I have always found the Olivia Palermo community to be insightful. And now more than ever, I look forward to learning about what they want directly from them. I do think people will be looking forward to enjoying clothes as a means of self-expression and using outfits as a point of daily inspiration (and not just necessity). There’s a funny saying: ‘I never saw a store I didn’t like.’ I don’t know where it came from, but for someone who enjoys the tactile shopping experience, it feels right. I have a lot of pent-up retail therapy to accomplish.”
My wardrobe: “My staples tend to be from Max Mara, Max&Co., Brunello Cucinelli, Dior, Moncler, Paige, Cara Mila, Fratelli Rossetti, Casadei, Valentino…the list goes on. I recently found a pair of misplaced super chic black Bassike harem pants (that I also own in navy) and I am excited to have recovered them.”
New discovery: “A small French brand called Amédée, which has beautiful oversized Merino wool scarves, and the Italian footwear brand Mia Moltrasio, which creates chic yet reasonable shoes. I’ve loved both brands since discovering them and we’ve recently introduced both on OliviaPalermo.com.”
New York haunts: “Sadly, a lot of the clothing boutiques I had grown up with have closed in recent years. But for art, home objects and fine jewellery, Material Good in SoHo is a must. And Mecox Gardens and Lexington Gardens are some of my favorites for all things interiors.”
A dream collaboration: “I love skiing, so perhaps a ski collection with Moncler.”
The oldest item in her closet: “Jewellery that was passed down to me. I still have my Fendi ‘Baguette’ too, from when I was a teenager.”
And the newest: “A pair of flats from Andrea Gomez and velvet mules from Le Monde Beryl.”
Sundays: “Are reserved for my manicure/pedicure. We like to go for walks with the dog (when the weather allows) and enjoy a nice lunch. Nights are reserved for our TV shows.”