Girl Boss

Olivia PalermO has made bOth an art and a busi­ness Out Of get­ting dressed in the mOrn­ing. Far­rah Storr meets a very mOd­ern muse (and mOgul)

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - COVER STAR - Pho­tog­ra­Phy Max aba­dian Fash­ion aMy ban­ner­Man and Kris­ten inger­soll


I’m look­ing for Olivia Palermo.’ The ho­tel re­cep­tion­ist stares blankly back at me. ‘Olivia Pa…ler…mo?’ I say, slower this time. Still noth­ing. ‘Is she a guest here?’ the woman asks, then taps on the key­board. I lean over the desk. ‘Not ex­actly. I’m meet­ing her for an in­ter­view. She’s a…’ I whis­per the last part, ‘She’s a celebrity.’ The woman smiles. ‘Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am. Should I have known that?’

Olivia is not re­ally a celebrity. The 31-year-old New Yorker is some­thing far more as­pi­ra­tional: an in­flu­encer and so­cial me­dia sen­sa­tion who’s used her some­time-celebrity to lever­age her­self into a mul­ti­mil­lion-rand life­style and fash­ion brand. A pap shot of her in a Top­shop jacket can guar­an­tee its sell­out within 48 hours. She merely has to post an im­age of a pair of train­ers on her In­sta­gram (five-mil­lion fol­low­ers) for the brand to be be­sieged with re­quests. She can sell any­thing from ban­gles and bronzer to phone cases and dog coats. And sell she does. She’s de­signed ‘col­lab­o­ra­tions’ with Ci­até Beauty as well as with West­ward Lean­ing sun­glasses, which has eight pairs of shades named af­ter her favourite places in the world: Palm Beach, Berlin… You get the idea. She’s worked on a jew­ellery line with a brand I’ve never heard of, BaubleBar (now ob­sessed, nat­u­rally), and has ‘col­lab­o­rated’ on a lim­it­ededi­tion bag with Aspinal of Lon­don. The list goes on. And on.

On top of this, she is also the rather cu­ri­ously named global style am­bas­sador for Ba­nana Repub­lic. I thought this meant she gets lots of free clothes, which she has to wear as she trav­els the world. Silly me. ‘It’s ac­tu­ally over­see­ing what their au­tumn di­rec­tion is go­ing to be,’ she tells me, as we take a cor­ner in the ho­tel’s café. ‘It’s see­ing the in­spi­ra­tion, start­ing to work on the spring ed­its online, and bring­ing in new pho­tog­ra­phers. I over­see all the cre­ative – the vi­su­als, the styling, all of that.’ (She’s also de­sign­ing a col­lec­tion for the brand, due in Septem­ber.)

It’s a smart move by Ba­nana Repub­lic, a brand that’s strug­gled to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of any­one un­der 35 look­ing for any­thing other than a sec­ond­in­ter­view work suit. Be­cause what they’re buy­ing into with Olivia is her. They’re buy­ing the up­scale, glossy clothes horse with an eye for high-low style. They’re buy­ing a piece of the woman we all se­cretly want to dress like

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