We’re all up to speed on the rich-kid stereotype. Gossip Girl’s preening Blair Waldorf, for example, or the Palm Beach teens of Privileged. But Kimberly Ovitz, daughter of the very famous (and at times infamous) Michael Ovitz, turns the notion of gilded offspring on its head. On this particular Manhattan morning at the downtown bistro Balthazar, there’s no trace of any silver spoon upbringing. Ovitz, 25, is decidedly low-key, clad in jeans and a slightly rumpled oxford button-down, as she sits in a banquette grazing on scrambled egg whites and toast. Her hair is still shower-wet in that got-dressed-in-a-dash sort of way. Which is, one soon learns, exactly how her mornings usually transpire. “You should be able to throw something on in five or 10 minutes and be done,” Ovitz remarks. “Less is more for me.”
As first impressions go, this snapshot says plenty about Ovitz while also offering a nice window into the eponymous collection she’s pitching at today’s breakfast. Her new line of clothes—slouchy sweaters, hunter’s plaid blouses—is effortless, grungy and nonchalant. She’s her own best muse and customer.
Designing clothes is a gig Ovitz has considered since she was a kid. “I was cleaning out my room in my parents’ house recently and found a career-day project I did in the sixth grade,” she recalls later, during a phone interview. “This whole poster board; swipes from magazines. It was [about becoming] a fashion designer.” Since then it has been a steady climb to get to the serious sartorial stuff. At 16, she had her first fashion internship, at J. Crew. A year after that she took a summer course at Parsons The New School for Design, which gave her the technical know-how. Then came the internships while at Brown University: at Harper’s Bazaar; with the late photographer Herb Ritts; and at Chanel, in Paris.
“I’ve been around so much creative talent growing up, but when I met Karl [Lagerfeld], I couldn’t stand up because I was in such awe,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do. I was so embarrassed, I wrote him an apology letter.” (This coming from a girl who, during one of her parents’ dinner parties, pulled Janet Jackson into her room to show the star her dancing skills.) Ovitz’s postcollege career, meanwhile, taught her the nuts and bolts of starting and running her own fashion company: She worked at Imitation of Christ, YaYa and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, labels she chose for their relatively small sizes. “That meant I’d get more access,” she explains. “[At a larger firm], you’re not going to get as much hands-on experience.” Ovitz is still keeping things small; aside from a production person, she notes that she’s the only one behind the company and the collection, prices for which range from $170 to $700.