In the spirit of the swinging sixties, we met up with writer and GQ literary editor Olivia Cole on the streets of Chelsea. She had the coffee maker all fired up and ready to go so we were able to talk (some) sense on her first novel set in 30s’ Hollywood, which involves a lot of oldie film watching as research. Damn we’re jealous.
If you had to list 3 must have items in your wardrobe what would they be?
Silver Converse high tops – practical and stylish, at least in my book. I’ve always loved Converse and my disco versions can take me anywhere. They are a liberating thing to wear because I can walk for miles in them and I like to think that they can be dressed up or down.
In winter, my Missoni jumbo scarves in shades of pink and plum. They can be worn as a shawl or a wrap-around scarf and I tend to wear mine wrapped a couple of times round in the manner of a giant Elizabethan neck ruff. They are warm and oversized and I’m rarely parted from it from about October to April, so much so that I now have two to mix things up. I love wearing them either with a coat or my black leather jacket and often keep them on indoors…
In the summer, I love wearing vintage print dresses in crazy colours. I have two in particular that I found in a tiny place called Venice Vintage Paradise on Abbot Kinney. They look as though they might have belonged to Barbie circa 1965 and if I was sensible they would be the only things I pack to take on holiday as they are all I ever wear.
Can you remember your first item of clothing that made you feel like a
grown up? What was it?
An outfit that certainly made me feel grown up was a white and pink all-in-one with a bow which I wore to death when I was about 8. I used to refer to it affectionately as “bow bow”. Like any of my favourite items, I tried to wear it as much possible so much so that it eventually fell apart at the seams. According to family legend, I cried.
Do you have any major style faux pas?
Far far too many to mention I am sure. For a start, I love a splash of neon at all times of year. In homage to Edie Sedgwick I also have a soft spot for a tasteful touch of leopard print… or indeed zebra. A spaghetti strap snapping on the way to a film premiere in Venice was also memorable. A friend managed to sew it back together as we bobbed around in a water taxi.
Is there a piece of clothing you’ve always wanted to own? Why?
When he was living in LA, working as a screen writer and writing The Last Tycoon, in 1937 F Scott Fitzgerald gave his girlfriend, the Hollywood journalist Sheilah Graham, a silver fox fur coat as a birthday present. LA at night can be freezing. She loved it so much she was too scared to wear it much and then when he was short on cash they gave it away to Scott’s teenage daughter Scottie, who was studying at Vassar, as a Christmas present. I’m writing a book based on Sheilah Graham’s life. I don’t know what happened to the coat but it would truly have some stories to tell.
Would you say you are a shoes or bag girl?
As a journalist I like to carry a lot of “essential” rubbish and books around, so my capacious tasselled Anya Hindmarch black bag has room for everything and pretty much goes everywhere with me. That said, I love my Jimmy Choos and it’s not a party without them.
Do you have an all-time favourite style purchase?
A silk little black dress by Prada. It was an amazing 30th birthday present from my mum and dad and it’s definitely grown up but is also the right combination of elegant and slightly naughty. It totally put me off fast fashion as I’ve worn it countless times and it still puts a spring in my step every time I put it on. I’ve never not had a good time wearing it!