Who IS Olivia Palermo, Anyway?
By now you’ve probably watched an episode of “The City” or have spent at least 10 seconds wondering why such do-nothing people get their own TV shows. One of those do-nothings is Olivia Palermo, Whitney Port’s “co-worker” at Diane von Furstenberg and her fellow “City” castmate. She’s also who I so lovingly refer to as C-Face, as I think she is possibly one of the most vapidly coniving people every on television. That said, outside of the New York social scene, Olivia is not well-known at all, despite acting as if she’s the bee’s knees. So who is this creature that our hero Kelly Cutrone literally guffawed over? All the info, after the jump. THE LOWDOWN: Olivia Palermo is a self-described “social” — that’s short of “socialite,” or a person who basically makes a name for themselves socializing, drinking champagne, and posing for photographers in expensive outfits. At only 21, Palermo appeared on the New York social scene only a few years ago — she’s the daughter of an interior designer and a real-estate consultant and started making the rounds at high-wattage parties while still a student at NYC’s New School. Currently, the girl who MTV insists on referring to as living “uptown,” rents a $4,100+ a month apartment in Tribeca, which, for those of you who are looking at a map, is significantly downtown from Whitney’s apartment in the Flatiron. Fact-check, MTV!
LOVES: Olivia had been dating male model Johannes Huebl, nicknamed “Joe Hotness”, since spring of 2008, but it’s pretty unclear from watching “The City” if the two are still together. Before that she dated another nicknamed pretty boy, Brad Leinhardt, a fashion designer behind the line Izzy Gold, who is often called “The Golden Jew” for reasons I can’t quite figure out. Needless to say, Olivia has a type — hot and rich. Others need not apply.
FRIENDS: Much like Hollywood, there’s a thin line in the New York socialite scene between friends and enemies. However, Olivia does seem to hang out at parties with fellow socialites and party girls like Byrdie Bell, Ally Hilfiger (daughter of Tommy), and Keith Richards’ daughters, Theodora and Alexandra. As we’ve seen on “The City,” her closest confidante seems to be her cousin Nevan Donahue. Oh, by the way, Nevan was once arrested for approaching a prostitute with his pants down and soliciting her for oral sex by offering Oxycontin. And, oh yeah, the prostitute was actually an undercover police officer. Yikes.
ENEMIES: Like a social system founded on money and good looks, the New York socialite scene is a hierarchy and Palermo tried to climb the ranks a little too quickly for some peoples’ liking. Among her enemies? Number one New York “social” Tinsley Mortimer (you’ve known doubt seen her photo in Elle or Vogue and thought to yourself, “Who the eff is this bitch standing next to Gwyneth Paltrow and P. Diddy?”) who felt threatened by Olivia’s ambition, her friend Fabiola Beracasa, and “hipster headband-wearing” social, Arden Wohl, who came on to the party circuit around the same time.
But at the top of Olivia’s s**t list? Valentine and Olga Rei, the brother/sister duo behind the now-defunct website SocialiteRank.com. Back in early 2007, Socialite Rank, run anonymously by the pair, exposed the competitiveness within the New York social scene and began ranking the socialites were based on their own criteria. Socialites and their publicists literally campaigned for popularity and tried to woo the Rei’s. As one of the new girls on the scene, Socialite Rank essentially made Palermo a “star” (relatively speaking of course — trust that I am rolling my eyes as I write this), but tore her down at the same time as she never made it higher than #16 on the overall list. They also helped stoke the rivalry between Mortimer and her fellow members in the old guard and Palermo — “Tinsley was one of our heroes,” Valentine told New York. “You need villains too.”
Before the Rei’s were revealed to be the writers behind Socialite Rank, Palermo threatened to sue to find out their identities after the site ran a letter from someone claiming to be Palermo. It was later proved the letter was not written by Olivia, Socialite Rank went off-line, and New York magazine revealed the Rei’s for the first time. Palermo laid low for a bit until the dust settled on Park Avenue and then started campaigning for a new kind of fame — reality TV stardom. And her role on “The City” was born. Got all that? Phew.