deer in the headlights: olivia palermo @ unique

For those of you in America, you might not believe this, most of us in the UK haven't heard of Olivia Palermo. (But then again, until a few years ago, it was hard to believe you hadn't heard of Victoria Beckham). And as for the rest of the world, you might even be thinking, who cares.

The only reason I knew who she was is because I love following the Red Carpet Fashion Awards, and I'd often vote for her for best red carpet look. I was so curious I even looked her up on wikipedia. You see, we don't get The City here (if they did show it, they'd have to call it 'Oh By the Way There is Another City on the Planet Besides London').

Before we went into the Topshop Unique show, I was shooting people being fast tracked into the vast, amazing Topshop flower market venue. And I saw this girl who just radiated such beautiful niceness, entering alone and sans entourage (and also, surprisingly in hindsight, unnoticed), but when I shot her, my flash went off. She glanced up, startled, & we smiled and waved. I still didn't know who she was. The photo wasn't very good, and I'd probably have deleted it later.

But after the show, there was suddenly this absolute media feeding frenzy for a few people right in front of me: Peaches, for starts (or was it Pixie?) and Olivia. People kept asking me who is this girl and I'd try and explain. I was right next to her, just shooting her while she did the interviews, and man, it was scary as hell. I only experienced it for a few minutes, and it was exhausting. And, in the midst of all that madness, strangely lonely.

Finally, she was done. A minder was dragging her off, so I simply said:

'I didn't shoot you earlier because of who you were: I thought you were just a pretty girl.' She looked at me for a moment, one human being to another, as if to say 'thank you for not wanting anything from me.' She thanked me, smiled a real smile, and was whisked away.

(Oh and btw: she's in top to toe Topshop, of course. And those wood chips formed the catwalk that snaked thru the space: more on that in a future post.)

It is such a strange world. There were countless pretty girls in the vast room who escaped unnoticed and undocumented. True, she has an absolutely beautiful face: from a photographer's point of view, she is perfection, because she radiates something so pure from within. I've seen people put on that professional smile, but she truly smiles with her eyes.

It's funny, when you're in the midst of the storm that is a fashion week, you only later discover other people had similar experiences. I've been meaning to post this, and just discovered that Garance, too, posted on Olivia, and said something similar, but more succinctly, but it all boils down to the same things: it takes a special person to handle this kind of media circus with dignity and grace.


rhai♥laborte said...

Pretty Girl!! :)


the style crusader said...

ah beautiful jill. she is totally gorgeous and i agree she has such great style. i also tend to pick her out as the best dressed. so fun that you got to meet her... even if it was quick and crazy. i love that last photo. xx

thekiwibex said...

She is the definition of luminous, glowing skin!

Leah said...

I agree with you... she radiates from within. I love Olivia and her style is awesome. xoxo

The Photodiarist said...

You should check out "The City" sometime, if at all possible. She is truly beautiful, but she is not portrayed very nicely on the show . . .

Anonymous said...

I was going to post the very same thing the Photodiarist did. She does not come off nice at all on The City, but rather a social elitist. Her sense of style, however, is absolutely amazing!

jill said...

Okay, now I'm really curious. I wish we could get it but they don't show it here. I was just in the states for a few weeks & didn't see it. It's not a drama series like Gossip Girl, it's a 'reality show' but not a contest show like The Bachelor or America's Biggest Loser right? (both shows I loved hanging out with my mom to watch).

& our dvd rental place doesn't have it.. so what is she famous for exactly? Apart from being rich and beautiful?

jill said...

Okay this is weird: the first thing I found when I googled 'The City' and 'Olivia Palermo' was this article about her not wanting to be portrayed as a villian - almost a year ago:


And then they're talking about something called The Hills, which I guess also started after we left the USA, and isn't syndicated here.. there's like this whole world of American TV I'm unaware of.

Sometimes I forget I'm not in Kansas anymore.

Style Odyssey said...

what a lovely, lovely girl. i admit i barely know who she is; i'm not into tv much, and these new shows escape my interest. i don't know what "the city" is about really...i watched an episode online once, and didn't understand whether it was reality tv, or semi-reality...or some new genre. maybe i'm getting old, lol! ;)

i am in awe of how radiant she is, and how lovely your photos are! i always like to see your multi shots arranged in rows.

Cecylia said...

Olivia is so stunning!!!

Anonymous said...

You can watch The City on MTV uk!

Pearl Westwood said...

What an absolutely lovely story Jill x

StyleSpy said...

Ummmm... I'm in America, and I have no idea who this is. Pretty girl, though.

Jo said...

The City and the Hills are both on MTV and the Fash mags in the UK love Olivia, she's in Grazia every week. MTV and T4 for the City, love the show oh NYC I long to live there.

jill said...

Jo, you can get MTV in the UK? I don't think we do. We've got a ton of channels but I can't find it.. yeah, I see her in Grazia a lot. I should try to find out if we have T4... they keep changing the numbers of the channels on us!

We lived in NYC before moving here.. I think I love London more. Still in my honeymoon phase. But they love the Brits, you should try it for a while!

Thanks, Pearl. And Amy, maybe they don't show it in Texas? I think it's a NY based show.

Lou said...

I can't believe you thought we don't get The Hills and The City here! Where have you been? Well, wait a minute, most people have lives and are not like me, plonked in front of the TV with a broken back watching any old rubbish! You can watch both on MTV and other music channels run them too.... The City is supposed to be a reality TV show following the lives of different girls (including Olivia) in New York as they work in fashion but apparently its all staged and scripted and is just meant to be 'real'. Its a confusing cocept. Anyway, Olivis is such a dick in the show! Really horribly stuck up amongst other things - so I suppose its a good thing its fake! She is gorgeous though. Wow, letting my 'The City' obsession show through a wee bit too strongly me thinks ha ha

Lou x

Anonymous said...

Hi Jill!

You have to watch The City and The Hills!! I am horribly addicted to them both! Its great no-brainer television and all of the girls have amazing style. The shows have probably caused a whole generation to yearn for a career in the fashion industry - me included! Lou is right though - Olivia is horrible!!

Nat x

ps. LOVE your blog!!
pps. T4 is channel 4's weekend morning show!

jill said...

Anonymous: THANK YOU!!! I thought that's what it was. We're so often out on weekend mornings (my husband, Mr. Dot, is very type A in that respect: the weekends are kind of a lot of mad dashing around) but I'm going to look out for it. I am VERY curious about that show now ; )

Isn't it funny how we can get such strong emotional opinions about people we haven't met? I know I do. Don't even get me started on Angelina Jolie..

jill said...

p.s. thank you also about my blog ; ) hope to hear from you again soon, whoever you are.

StyleSpy said...

I'm sure they show it in Texas (we have indoor plumbing, too), but I don't keep up with MTV's oeuvre these days. Am loving "Kell on Earth" on Bravo, though. That's great fun.

Winnie said...

You know I watched The City and she is not portrayed as the nicest character at all. I saw her a few times at LFW and she was ALWAYS smiling and just seemed very lovely. You're right, she seems to exude warmth and It's sad that she's seen as a villan. Your post confirms the fact that she is not like her character on the show and further perpetuates the staged element of the whole show. I wish the show would just say 'This is scripted' rather than make us all believe everything is real.


So cool! She is so pretty & classy!
Love the photos, you're so lucky to have met her.

Ps. Yes that's my dog, and thanks for the compliment on my post!


Anonymous said...

Actually you can watch The City in the internet. For free.


enjoy! i do.

loving your blog,
Lasma (Latvia)