Photos by Felicia Lasala
You may know her for taking the crown as Miss Universe in 2012 or as “that really stylish girl from Instagram.” Wherever you’ve spotted her, Olivia Culpo is catching fire, and fast. The 25-year-old Rhode Island-native is quickly becoming one of the most trendy models and brand ambassadors in the fashion world—and that’s not to say she hasn’t earned it.
Culpo rose to prominence in the summer of 2012, when she took to the stage in her very first pageant, the Miss Rhode Island USA contest. Not only did she win, but she won the competition in a $20 rental dress that was too short—a detail that will tell you about her tenacity. Not long after, Culpo was crowned Miss USA, but the former Boston University student wasn’t done yet. In December of 2012, Culpo beat out 88 contestants in Las Vegas to take home the Miss Universe title, a feat not accomplished by Miss USA since 1997.
During her years as reigning Miss Universe, Culpo started to land movie roles, and by 2016, she had become a fashion sensation. Beyond sharing her style with her loyal followers and fans on Instagram (2.1m if you’re into stats), she was soon inducted into the L’Oreal League, undoubtedly due to her growing influence in the fashion and beauty industries. From there, opportunities only continued to snowball.
This year, besides being spotted soaking up the sun with boyfriend and Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, Culpo has only been bolstering her credentials (and notoriety). Citing her childhood and time spent around the world’s beauty queens as a source of inspiration, her sense of style has also evolved—so much so that she was asked to create a capsule collection with Le Tote as well as being named the first Style Ambassador for DSW. And now with NYC Fashion Week in the rearview, Culpo will be working on her latest role opposite Bruce Willis in the anticipated action title “Reprisal.” Needless to say, whatever she’s up to, we know she’ll be great. The Digest recently had a chance to speak with Culpo about her projects, style and her biggest influences.
How old were you when you first developed an eye for fashion? Is it something you’ve always been interested in?
I’ve been interested in fashion my whole life. I used to love playing dress up as a kid and I would make my sisters let me dress them. I used to be very creative and rip up old T-shirts and try to create a new design out of them. I didn’t have a ton of money to buy clothes so I would take my dad’s old, extra large T-shirts and cut them up into different styled tops and dresses. Fashion is fun when there are no rules and you can just be creative.
What, if anything, did your time in the Miss Universe pageant teach you about style?
Miss Universe definitely taught me a lot about style. Never in my life had I been in a room with people from over 100 other countries! What a huge learning experience. Everyone had such a different sense of fashion and it definitely broadened my perspective.
How do you think your personal style has evolved in the past couple of years?
My personal style is constantly evolving. I am always getting new ideas and inspiration and playing with silhouettes. I never want to be too safe or hold back from trying something new because I’m scared of people disliking it. That’s something I had to let go of awhile ago. Fashion should be a reflection of you and your personality, and if other people don’t like it then that’s totally fine. It doesn’t really have anything to do with them. I try to remember that it is subjective and everyone’s taste is unique. It is that contrast that makes fashion so exciting.
You recently partnered with Le Tote and were named as Style Ambassador for DSW. What were/are your responsibilities during these endeavors?
I love partnering with brands to help me exercise my fashion tastes. With Le Tote I created my first-ever capsule collection including picking fabrics, color swatches and styles. It was also my first time working with an established brand who knew their customer very well. I wanted to make sure that my designs were things that their customer would really love and be comfortable wearing.
For DSW I curate “Olivia’s Edit” every month which includes five of my favorite shoes for that month. DSW has such a wide variety of shoes at so many different price points and that gives me room to be creative. I love to show people new and different ways to style themselves while not having to spend every dime. I style each selected shoe with pieces that I am loving for the season. I hope to inspire people to try new things and step out of their comfort zone with fashion.
What are your plans for the future? Any interesting collaborations on the horizon?
Right now I am working on a movie with Bruce Willis called “Reprisal.” I just launched another capsule collection with Pretty Little Things that is really beautiful. I have another film and TV show in the works and I am gearing up for Fashion Week in New York City, Paris and Milan.
You often use Instagram to share outfits and looks with your followers. What impact do you think social media has on the fashion world?
I think Instagram is a great place to get fashion inspiration. I personally love checking Instagram to see what people are wearing and searching for upcoming fashion trends.
When it comes to style, who is your biggest influence?
That’s a tough one but I would have to say a tie between Blake Lively, Victoria Beckham and Audrey Hepburn. I love the way Blake can wear something so glamorous and even over-the-top but still look very fashion-forward. Victoria has done such an amazing job with her career as a designer. I love the way her clothes feel—feminine but not in a girly way at all. Audrey is the ultimate icon. She really knew how to wear the clothes instead of them wearing her.
What are your go-to brands and stores when you’re strapped for time?
I usually online shop so my go-to’s are FWRD, Revolve, Intermix, DSW, PLT, Zara and Net-A-Porter.
What is your ideal fall outfit?
I love wearing boots with a cute pair of jeans and a cozy sweater. My trick is to match the leather on my boots to my belt or handbag. It instantly makes you look more put together!
Do you have a favorite red carpet designer? If so, why?
Right now I am in love with Monse, Burberry, Mugler, Off White, Alessandra Rich and Louis Vuitton. I also absolutely loved everything from the Dior Cruise Collection Show which I attended earlier this spring.
What’s one thing every woman should have in her closet?
I think every woman needs a long sleeve bodysuit, pair of high-waisted jeans, a pointed toe pump and a beautiful structured handbag. You really can’t go wrong with that outfit!