Socialite Olivia Palermo has continually added to her fashion résumé since her days opposite Whitney Port on The City, MTV’s spinoff of reality show The Hills. In her new venture, Palermo, whose sculpted features have graced several magazine covers, has teamed up with Nordstrom’s in-house brand, Chelsea28, to design her own clothing line.
The collection, described as “modern staples with a high-fashion edge,” offers “modern feminine fashion at an accessible price level.” (Those prices range from $68 to $448.) Some items from the spring collection are currently available in stores and online, while others will be released periodically throughout the year. Palermo’s one-year partnership with Nordstrom will produce four collections. StyleSheet caught up with Palermo during her Feb. 12 appearance at NorthPark’s Nordstrom, where she discussed the transition from modeling to designing as well as her inspirations.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR CHELSEA28 COLLECTION WITH NORDSTROM?
It’s been a great collaboration. Nordstrom and I started talking about a year ago. They approached me, and it was about the right time to branch out and do a little bit of apparel. I’ve already been working very much in accessories and in beauty, so it’s a nice transition.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN DESIGNING CLOTHES?
I thought it was a nice transition. The timelines for ready-to-wear beauty and accessories are a bit different, so it was nice to try that, work with different factories in different parts of the world. I was very hands-on through the whole process.
WHAT HAS THE TRANSITION BETWEEN MODELING CLOTHES AND DESIGNING THEM BEEN LIKE?
You know, it’s not so much a change, because everything that we do will be with OliviaPalermo.com. We do all the styling; we do all the production; we do all the creative; we pick the photographer; we pick hair and makeup, location … So, for this, we kind of wanted to keep it very clean and stick to a studio shot. You know, just let the clothes speak for themselves for the first season. And then maybe move on in a different direction for the following season.
I NOTICED ON THE WEBSITE THAT YOU MODELED ALL THE CLOTHES IN YOUR COLLECTION. WAS THAT MORE USEFUL?
You know, I think it makes sense. It is my collection. How I wear it or one would wear it. I think it’s important to be supportive in your own clothes. Obviously, we have fit models for the product shots, but I think it is important [to model my own collection].
YOUR DESIGNS HAVE MANY EUROPEAN INFLUENCES. WHICH COUNTRY OR CITY’S FASHION DO YOU THINK IMPACTS YOUR STYLE THE MOST?
I think probably Paris, France. Through all of my travels, I get all of my inspirations all over the world, but this collection is really a foundation. You know, building a young girl’s wardrobe and starting with–I refer to them as lifer pieces–and then each season we do more statement pieces. So I think that bringing in the sporty element of denim and kind of elevating that, making it a bit more structured; adding a Breton stripe obviously keeps the Parisian feel. And I think the cuts and silhouettes are kind of for everyone’s body type, and that’s something that I took [into] consideration. Proportions are very important–I always say you need a good tailor. But we are women on the go, so I did find that a culotte can be very versatile. You can wear it with a pointy flat or you can wear it with a heel, and that makes it a bit easier.
WHICH ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION DID YOU HAVE THE MOST FUN DESIGNING?
I love the military jacket. Every girl loves a great military coat in their closet. And this was just adding the ability to make it into a vest or a dress if you want, or you can leave it open.
YOU’VE SAID THAT EVERY WOMAN HAS TO FIND HER OWN FASHION COMFORT ZONE FOR HERSELF. WHAT EXPERIENCES HELPED YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLE?
I think it takes time. You have to figure out what works for your body type, what doesn’t, what colors you like. Whether you prefer more of a structured feel or a loose feel. So you have to just play around with it. Take a few minutes; you can be in front of the mirror at home. And sometimes just playing with prints–you’d be pleasantly surprised.