Even though way passed the perfect “model age,” Stéphane Olivier eclipses his other boy companions in a facile fashion and makes the clothes look damn fine. Converting literally everything he wears and touches into the coolest outfits and accessories is something well known about him. His rock and roll style, romantic look and his numerous tattoos have made him a unique star in the fashion industry. A runaway regular over the years, Stéphane has walked for numerous fashion brands.
Stéphane met us in his apartment on the hills right behind Echo Park, Los Angeles. As the day went by, he proved to be extremely unpretentious and warm. It is clear that he is not the typical Ken doll that launches around fashion events and runways between New York and Milan, but in fact is a mature, intelligent man who simply knows how to use his eccentric looks and personality in the right way.
Even though at times, when one really dares to take a full look at this man, it is undeniable that Olivier’s persona does provide some kind of intimidation. However, after all these hours in Olivier’s company, I blatantly have to admit that, Yes, Olivier is simply that dazzling and a complete natural at everything he does. Perhaps the one of his kind.
Stéphane, you were born in France and your mom is Italian. Why and for how long have you been here in Los Angeles?
I have been in Los Angeles since 2007. I moved here because my daughter’s mom is from Oregon and I can’t live too far from her. I love driving from here to Oregon, the landscape is breathtaking.
You work in fashion but this is the city of cinema. Did you do something as an actor since you were here?
Yes, I acted in a bunch of movies and some short clips, Turn into Earth by Patrick McKenzie and Likeness, the directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto with Elle Fanning (Super 8).
In Echo Park there are many historic houses. This one seems very old, do you know when it was built?
This house was built in 1896, this is the only thing that I know about it. I really don’t know who used to live here, maybe an early screen performer, since a lot of them bought homes around here before moving to Hollywood and other areas.
What are your favorite places in the house?
My favorite places in my house are the kitchen and the garden. The kitchen is where I spend most of the time cooking, eating, drinking and chatting with my friends, and the garden because I love taking care of my plants and sitting on the grass after a tiring day.
Is there a ghost who plays that piano when you turn off the lights and go to sleep?
We do have some weird sounds and cracks in the house at night but there are no ghosts playing piano! My friend is the only one that plays this old piano.
I saw that in the kitchen there are two ovens, do you enjoy cooking that much? What do you cook?
I love cooking! I make a lot of vegetables that I grow in the garden and then Italian pasta and pizza from scratch. I’m not a big fan of French cuisine.
What do you grow in your garden?
We have a lot! Tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, radish, carrots, lettuce, peas, basil, broccoli, mint, strawberries, oranges, fig.
What music do you listen to?
I mostly listen to hip-hop and rap, but I also love skate music, rock, indie and some electronic. Right now we are listening to a local punk band, I don’t even remember the name but I love this record!
In the living room you have the Italian poster of Dance of the Vampires by Roman Polanski, who are your other favorite directors?
I love cinema! My favorite directors in a random order are Stanley, Clint Eastwood, David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Paul Verhoeven.
If you have just 2 minutes to leave the house, what are you bringing with you?
I feel earthquakes quite often! I’m always ready to leave just bringing my passport and the cat.
What do you like to do in town?
I do a lot of sport activities, I love going to the beach, doing some rock climbing in the desert, going to horse races. My favorite places for a drink are The Villain Tavern, Bordello, the bar at W Hotel, Sunset Beer.
What are your favorite beaches near Los Angeles?
Manhattan Beach, Venice, Malibu.
You have a lot of tattoos. Do you have your tattoo artist here in Los Angeles?
Yes I have my tattoo artist in LA, Taylor Six of Freak Chic Tattoo on Melrose Ave. He can make everything: black and grey, American traditional, realistic portraits.
You fly very often, do you have some advice to overcome the jetlag?
Drinking a lot of water with lemon and some melatonine it’s always good.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a 1987 Jaguar XJ, I got it on Craigslist, you can make really good deals on the Internet sometimes!
You drive a Jaguar, have you ever thought about getting something more American like a Mustang for example? Serge Gainsbourg has also written a song about it, right?
When I first arrived in the United States I found a 1979 Pontiac Transam. I bought it and I fixed it. I also love Mustangs and other muscle cars. I don’t like Serge Gainsbourg that much!
With whom would you like to do a USA coast to coast by car?
My best friend David, he never visited the States and it would be an amazing experience for him.
I heard that recently your car had some problems, how is living in Los Angeles without a car?
No car in Los Angeles is a total nightmare. The Metro System is really bad and doesn’t connect the most of the city. Buses and cabs are trapped into traffic all day long.
You also have a bicycle and a motorbike, isn’t it deadly going around on two wheels in Los Angeles?
Yes it is! I got into an accident last summer!
Has modeling brought you to a lot of exotic places? Which was your favorite?
Traveling is one of the best parts of this job! I have been in maybe 85% of the countries with modeling. I saw a lot of beautiful places but if I have to pick, I would say Australia, Japan and United Arab Emirates.
Your relationship with the fashion industry seems filled with drama. Is it that hard to deal with fashion designers?
Sometimes there is a lot of pressure on you and it’s hard but you have to deal with it if you are a serious professional.
Would you suggest your daughter to be a model?
She has already thought about it but I won’t bring her in this industry. I would like her to be just a normal teenager that goes to school and hangs out with her friends. We will see.
Ok, we are done. Just a last question, will you stay here or go back to Europe?
I don’t think I’m going back to Europe soon. My life is here, my daughter, my friends, my work, I am some kind of American now!
Thanks very much for your time!
Interview and Photography: Marco Annunziata