Paris Hilton talks us through her memoir, regrettable outfits and life as a mum
Paris Hilton turned up to her Klarna launch event in Los Angeles wearing a 2023 version of her 21st birthday dress. Considering that the Julien McDonald mini has been living rent-free in our heads since 2002, we feel like we just witnessed a moment in history, again.
The world is experiencing somewhat of a Parenassaince in the 2020s. And that’s only right – it’s been two decades since she took the world by storm as the original It girl, the heiress who was famous for her penchant for pink and trademark quips like 'That’s Hot'. Back when we didn’t know who the Kardashians were and making a living via social media was yet to be realised, Paris was defining influencer lifestyle. So, it feels significant that she’s coming back in 2023 to reclaim her crown.
Cosmopolitan UK spoke exclusively to the DJ/activist/author/businesswoman at the launch of her multimedia campaign with shopping app Klarna, a Y2k-themed party with guests like Kris Jenner, Dylan Mulvaney and Emily in Paris’ Ashley Park in attendance. When asked how she feels about the Noughties comeback, Paris responds with one of her famous lines, "loves it!", in that even more famous baby voice. "There was nothing like the Noughties. It was the most iconic, fun and extra time in history."
And since her most memorable outfits were on display at the party, we asked Paris to talk us through her best and worst looks of all time.
"I loved my tracksuits," Paris tells Cosmopolitan UK. She is, of course, referring to the Juicy Couture sets she made popular back in her twenties. "But my favourite outfit was obviously my 21st birthday dress," she adds. Paris confirms that, yes, her current Nicole + Felicia look was indeed inspired by that iconic crystal-chainmail dress that’s been immortalised on Instagram ever since – not to mention copied by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Dua Lipa.
"I feel like every designer has done a version of that dress and this reminded me of it, but like a more grown-up version," she says. Fret not, Noughties nostalgists, it’s not too grown-up: Paris still understood the assignment and topped her sparkling strapless mini with matching fingerless gloves and diamanté mask shades.
We also ask her for her biggest outfit regrets. "The Von Dutch and the Ed Hardy, because they’re beyond," she says. "I’ve seen all these kids on TikTok wearing Von Dutch and then they’ll have a video of me and Nicole [Richie] in The Simple Life and then splice it together with them and their hats."
Could Paris give these looks a go now? "I feel like I can’t wear that brand again, but we were obsessed with it back in the day – we definitely put it on the map."
Paris muses on how her style has changed since her Simple Life days. "I feel like I’ve always had that fun, like, queeny style: I’ve always loved to sparkle, and I love pink," she says. "But now, being a mom, some of my outfits are a little more practical: I like chilling at home with him [baby Pheonix] in tracksuits, they’re so comfortable."
She says it's why she's excited to create a tracksuit in collaboration with Klarna, with 100% of the proceeds going to 11:11 Media Impact –the nonprofit charity Paris set up in 2021 to defend the rights of children and women worldwide. Made from green velour, this special-edition set is dripping in sparkling crystal fringing and turns to reveal ‘That’s Smoooth’ emblazoned on the back – a cute riff on Paris’ patented ‘That’s Hot’ catchphrase to show how easy it is to shop via Klarna's app. "We wanted to show how much shopping has changed since the 2000s because people used to be scared of purchasing online," she adds.
Since Paris was the original mall rat, spending her days on The Simple Life traipsing the stores with BFF Nicole Richie, it seems otherworldly to imagine her any other way. She still browses IRL, though, Paris reassures me, "in disguise". "I love going shopping in real life, but my life is so busy I don’t even have time, and you can online shop no matter where you are, on a plane, in the car…"
Despite the strong nostalgia emanating from this campaign, Paris is looking to the future more than ever. Now 42 years old, married to husband Carter Reum and new mother to her baby boy Phoenix, born via surrogate in January, Paris is feeling like a whole new woman. She’s filming the second season of her reality series Paris in Love – the crew are at the party – and her tell-all book Paris: The Memoir is dropping on March 14.
If the Noughties was a time where the paparazzi and tabloids dominated celebrity life, the social media era is the time for society to reexamine how it treated starlets, and for people like Paris to reclaim their story. And that’s exactly what she's doing in her new memoir.
When asked what we can expect from her book, Paris laughs nervously. "Everything, it’s like my diary. I talk about things that I have never told anyone, my mum, my sister, my best friend. [It was] very cathartic [to write] but also very nerve wracking because it’s like, a lot. It’s going to be an emotional moment I know when my family reads it."
She continues, exhaling: "I’ve lived a very full life, but a lot of things that have happened to me. A lot of bad people." We don’t dig into specifics, but in recent years, Paris has spoken out about the institutional abuse she faced at boarding school aged 17. She even helped to pass a bill in Utah that introduced oversight of teenage treatment centres, and gives more protection to young people in facilities, where she endured such abuse. In the era of #FreeBritney and Meghan Markle's emancipation, it's good to see the world is finally beginning to sympathise with women in the spotlight. Paris is continuing to think how she can use her experience to influence young women, famous or otherwise. "I think it was important to tell my story because there are so many young girls out there who feel bound to shame. But it shouldn’t be on them, it should be on the person who hurt them – and that’s a big message in my book."
Speaking of influencing women, our writer couldn’t help but ask Paris a personal question about their shared experience of ADHD, a neurological disorder that’s famously under-diagnosed in women.
"I didn’t know I had ADHD until years after when I was a teenager, I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t focus in school," Paris recalls. She’s metabolised this diagnosis with nothing but positivity, however. "That’s where my creativity comes from, being ahead of my time, always thinking into the future. It can be hard when your mind is always moving at a million miles an hour but, if you harness ADHD in the right way, it can be your superpower."
Maybe it’s because she’s a new mother, or maybe it’s because she’s mindful of her own difficult past, but Paris is constantly reflecting on how she can help others through shared experience. "I think [the superpower analogy] is great for other kids to hear. Because, if they don’t know, a teacher could make them feel bad about it, but it’s a good thing!"
But just because Paris is all grown up now doesn’t mean she’s lost her sense of fun. That tongue-in-cheek persona is all about performance, after all. Many thanks and and tight hug later, she insists everyone pose for a selfie – grabbing her shades and personal ring light (yes, really) from a member of her entourage before working the camera once more. That’s what we call Sliving.
The Paris Hilton X Klarna tracksuit is available to pre-order now for March delivery via Paris' own site or with flexible payments via the Klarna app. All proceeds go to 11:11 Media Impact.
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