Before Olivia Palermo became a global style maven — and the recipient of FFANY’s inaugural Influential Figure in Fashion accolade — it was family ties that sparked her sartorial passion.
“Fashion has played an integral role in my upbringing, as I have been surrounded by it for as long as I can remember,” she told FN. “My aunt worked at an auction house, and the exposure to this allowed me to become aware of the history of fashion and importance of craftsmanship.”
As a teenager, Palermo jumped into the editorial world by interning at Quest magazine, where she gained a fresh perspective on an industry she had already begun to embrace.
Her big break came in 2008 while starring on MTV’s reality series “The City,” which chronicled the lives of some of New York’s elite young female professionals. From there, Palermo’s star continued to rise after signing with Wilhelmina International Inc., where some of her early partnerships included Mango and Gap’s former online boutique Piperlime.com.
“All of my experiences to this day, from style tips taught to me by my mother to working with internationally renowned brands, have been impactful in one way or another,” she said. “I am very grateful to have had opportunities that have been complementary to one another and have also given me increased clarity on the trajectory of my brand going forward.”
Her repertoire of collaborations has since grown considerably. In addition to being named the first global style ambassador of Banana Republic, she’s worked with shoe designers including Stuart Weitzman and Aquazzura, as well as accessories labels such as Meli Melo and Piaget. Retailers like Nordstrom have also tapped into the entrepreneur’s style, which Palermo describes as “eclectic.”
“I gravitate toward a mixture of elements such as combining glamorous, even opulent designs with very simple pieces, but always with a polished and tailored aesthetic. I love color and am always well-accessorized,” she explained.
So how does Palermo curate such an expansive dossier of partnership proposals? “Natural synergies” and “authenticity,” she told FN.
“[It’s] integral to everything that I do, and I would like to think it is one of the driving forces behind the success of my brand. So many of the collaborations we have embarked on over the years stemmed from my organically utilizing a product,” Palermo said.
The trendsetter also keeps an eye out for environmentally friendly methods, stating: “We are all capable of doing our part.”
“I would like to commend the industry as a whole,” Palermo said. “I just had the honor of attending the Green Carpet Awards in Milan, which is put on by Livia Firth’s organization Eco-Age, to encourage sustainability in the fashion industry. Although there is still so much work to be done, it is clear that more efforts to operate responsibly are being taken day by day.”
While she gladly applauds the work of others, it’s now her time in the spotlight. When asked about her thoughts on being honored at the QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” gala this week, Palermo graciously responded, “It’s a wonderful compliment to be acknowledged, and I am both very touched and humbled.”
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