Paris Hilton Tells Mel Ottenberg How She Invented Barbiecore
I first met Paris Hilton at a Beverly Hills party in 2001. She asked me for a cigarette and I gave her one. I didn’t know much about Paris and had only seen one photo of her prior to our encounter, but it was a dazzling and unforgettable moment nonetheless, because she has always been a superstar. Her new song “Hot One” is pretty great and her new podcast, “The History of the World’s Greatest Nightclubs,” comes out next week, so we caught up on Zoom to talk about the song of the summer, Barbiecore and mom stuff.
PARIS HILTON: Hello. Is it on?
MEL OTTENBERG: Hi Paris, how are you?
HILTON: Good, how are you? Nice to see you.
OTTENBERG: I’m really good. Where are you?
HILTON: I’m in L.A.
OTTENBERG: Did you know that yesterday was the hottest day ever recorded?
HILTON: In L.A.?
OTTENBERG: No, in the world. So it’s the perfect time for your new song because it actually was the hottest day ever recorded, babe.
HILTON: That’s hot.
OTTENBERG: I’m in New York, it’s actually too hot, and there were also fires somewhere, so you can barely go outside. It’s a hot one, Paris.
HILTON: I was just in New York when I was performing for Pride in Central Park and it was so hot. It was crazy.
OTTENBERG: We got really into “Hot One” this weekend. I feel like it’s a really important song.
HILTON: I agree.
OTTENBERG: “Hot One,” “Padam,” and “World Class Sinner” sound really good together. But you would know that since you’re a DJ. You DJ’d Padam when I saw you at your amazing LA show. I loved it. What are the other hottest songs of the summer?
HILTON: Well, obviously Kylie is such an icon. I love “Padam” because there’s so many epic remixes of it. I love Christina, Dua Lipa, Britney. Who else? Madonna. Basically, all the icons.
OTTENBERG: What is Paris’ Madonna song of 2023?
HILTON: There’s so much. My friends, these guys called the ALTÉGO Twins, who I actually found on TikTok, they have been making so many sick remixes. They’re the ones who made the “Padam” remix that I played and the Britney one during my concert. And they just made a remix of Madonna “Hung Up” with “Stars Are Blind” and it is so sick.
OTTENBERG: I love that.
HILTON: It’s really, really sick. I have a show in London this week for Formula One, so I’m going to play it.
OTTENBERG: I loved your LA show. It just made me really happy. Are you into doing shows right now?
HILTON: That was literally one of the best nights of my life. That was just so much fun, just feeling all the love in the room and how happy everyone was. I was in tears on stage, just feeling so proud. And this is my pop star era now, so I’m loving it. I can’t wait to do more.
OTTENBERG: Yeah, it’s really fun. You’re singing, you’re DJing, you’re being Paris Hilton. No one can do it. You are the blueprint.
HILTON: Thank you.
OTTENBERG: I want to talk about the podcast thing for sec. I met you in my nightclub era, right? Do you still go out to the clubs? I feel like I still know about the clubs, but I’m just not giving club anymore.
HILTON: I’ve been to so many incredible parties in my life and now I’m in a different phase of my life where I’m married, I have my baby, and I’m running my media company, 11:11. There’s just so much happening that I don’t have time to go out. And if I am going out, I’m there to work. But otherwise, I’m not.
OTTENBERG: But we still love the history of nightclubs. Can you tell me about that? When does this pod come out? This week?
HILTON: It comes out next week, and it’s a podcast series that I am doing with my podcast company with iHeart. I’m fascinated by the history of nightclubs and that’s why we wanted to do the series because unless you were there, I think it’s hard for people to really see it. But with this podcast, you really can just feel it and see it and learn so much, all of the stories of nightlife.
OTTENBERG: Do you talk about the clubs of 2007, the ultimate era of Paris Bad Girls?
HILTON: This is the first season of it, so we’re going to go into other clubs. But we were talking about Space in Ibiza, Danceteria in New York. That’s the second episode. We just really go into when the clubs were first getting hot, like Studio 54, and then onwards. So then we’ll get to all of that…
OTTENBERG: Do you have a major first club memory that’s burned into your brain forever?
HILTON: The first time I went to Spy Bar in New York, that was just one of the most epic nights. And from then, I was obsessed with sneaking out at night and going to clubs. This is probably when I was 16. And then Moomba came out after and I just loved going out in downtown New York.
OTTENBERG: I never went to Spy Bar but Moomba, yes. So wait, what, can we talk about the fashions right now? What are you wearing to your shows? Who made your rainbow dress that you wore in New York?
HILTON: That was Ludovic [de Saint Sernin].
OTTENBERG: Oh, hot.
HILTON: It was amazing. So major. When I saw that dress, I was like, “This is so perfect for Pride.” It reminds me of my iconic 21st birthday dress, but rainbow. It was just so epic to wear. And I love that designer. He’s incredible.
OTTENBERG: You’ve probably talked about this a lot, but I need to know now for the record. Who made your 21st birthday dress and was that an outfit that you planned way in advance, or did it just happen?
HILTON: That was Julien Macdonald and I love him, and I just walked in his show as the bride for his runway show during Fashion Week. I said to him, I was like, “I have to wear this to my 21st birthday, which is happening at Stork Room.”
OTTENBERG: Wait, we lost you, Paris.
HILTON: Oh, I pressed a button by mistake. So as soon as I wore it on the runway, I just felt like a disco ball and I was like, “This dress is me if I was a dress. So I said, “Can I wear this for my 21st birthday dress?” And he said, “Yes, of course.” And the rest is history.
OTTENBERG: Kids, Julien Macdonald was the hottest knitwear and party dress designer of the dawn of Paris.
HILTON: Yeah. He still is. He still makes the most beautiful pieces.
OTTENBERG: And then the necklace and shit, did you just add that last minute, or was it all planned? It’s sort of one of the most famous dresses of the 21st century.
HILTON: Thank you. It really is. That was all me. I always would accessorize things. I would go downtown and go shopping at Patricia Field and Hotel Venus and all these stores and buy all these crazy outfits, and kind of just style them myself because I didn’t have a stylist back then. I was just doing it all on my own.
OTTENBERG: The girls don’t know how to do it anymore. Also, everyone’s so worried about bad press. I’m not saying bad press feels good in the end, but what was so fierce about you when you were coming on the scene was you were like, “I don’t give a fuck. I’m just doing what I know is fierce, not what everyone else is telling me.”
HILTON: That’s so true. Now, everything is just very manufactured. Back then, it was just so real and nobody was dressing like that. I guess I was just always very ahead of my time.
OTTENBERG: You go, Paris. Do you think that the girlies can get it back? Is there anything we can tell them about being a bad girl now, to just fuck the rules and do what you’re going to do?
HILTON: I think it’s just about having fun with fashion and being a first at things, taking risks. I’ve always been someone who likes to start trends, not follow them. There’s no rules with fashion. Just make up your own rules.
OTTENBERG: Would you wear low-rise jeans now?
HILTON: It depends on the fit of them, but yeah, if there were some hot ones. AREA has been sending me some really hot things that are low rise and I love them.
OTTENBERG: What else is feeling hot to you right now?
HILTON: Anything that sparkles, Swarovski crystals, anything that lights up. I was so obsessed with the Chanel runway show they had in LA. All those shoes that were lighting up, those were the things that I used to wear back in the day as well. So just seeing all of that on the runway, I felt like I was literally watching my closet. It was just so me, chic but sexy and iconic all at once. So, yeah, I’m obsessed with Chanel. And the new Valentino collection, I love all the pink. So, just to see everybody now in all pink and rocking that is just really incredible. I’ve been doing Barbiecore for so long, I probably invented Barbiecore.
OTTENBERG: Yeah, I think you did. Who invented it if not you?
HILTON: I really believe that. Besides Barbie, I was the first human…
OTTENBERG: We should respect Barbie and I’m glad that you added her because that was rude of me. But yes, first human.
HILTON: I love Barbie. She’s my idol and icon.
OTTENBERG: Are you DJ’ing the summer? Are you giving Ibiza and stuff?
HILTON: I’ve said no to so many things just because of my schedule with work and with the baby, I’m wanting to spend more time with my family. But I will be doing Tomorrowland again, the fifth year in a row because that’s the biggest music festival in the world and I love playing it. Ibiza, they offered me a residency, but I said no. I’m going to go on a boat this summer with my husband and my baby for his first Europe trip. I’ll be doing some concerts like Formula One in Vegas, some other appearances in Vegas, but I’m just very selective now with what I do.
OTTENBERG: What else does Ms. Paris have going on that I need to know about?
HILTON: I’m just getting ready to launch my 30th fragrance. We’re getting ready for my new clothing and makeup and skincare and jewelry lines, lingerie and swimwear. And my second album, which has been just so much fun, getting back in the studio and working with so many incredible people, and having Sia be the executive producer of the new album.
OTTENBERG: Oh wow.
HILTON: She’s just so incredibly talented and kind and brilliant and I just love her so much. And she’s actually the one who inspired me to do the second album, after I did the surprise performance with her and Miley on New Year’s Eve. When we were on the plane ride home, she looked at me and she’s like, “You need to be a pop star.” I was like, “Well, I’ve just been doing everything else.” She’s like, “No, your music is so amazing.” And then she’s like, “How would you feel if I executive produced your album?” And I was like, “Oh my god, that would be an honor.” And then I went into the studio the next day, and I’ve already recorded 75% of the album.
OTTENBERG: Wow. Keep us posted on when she’s coming out.
HILTON: I will, I will. We’re going to have a lot of singles coming out. And then the album will be out next year.
OTTENBERG: Wow. Do you have any regrets?
HILTON: I regret letting certain people into my life that didn’t deserve to be in my life. Everything in my life has made me so strong and who I am today. But yeah, there’s just certain people that I wish I didn’t let near me.
OTTENBERG: What kind of videos are you most obsessed with watching these days? I can’t stop watching food videos. I’m being assaulted by food videos and they’re so interesting. I have no idea why.
HILTON: I love food videos too because I love to cook and I love food. So that’s something that also comes up on my feed a lot because I’m always cooking. Like this weekend, I went to the market, and on Instagram, I found all these amazing, really healthy ways to cook things. And now, I’m really being into ingredients and looking at every label and just really paying attention to what I put inside my body.
OTTENBERG: Are you a health nut these days?
HILTON: Yeah. Sometimes I’m not. It depends. I’m healthy when I have something important to do, but then I love just to eat chocolate and Taco Bell.
OTTENBERG: Yeah, it’s always a good time for chocolate and Taco Bell. Any last words, Paris Hilton?
HILTON: That’s hot. I’m kidding.
OTTENBERG: I love talking to you and I really love the song. I can’t wait to see what else is coming because that song’s hot.
HILTON: Thank you honey, and love you. My mom is obsessed with you and loves you so much and has had so much fun with you. You are amazing and I just love what you do. You’re really, really incredible.
OTTENBERG: Thank you so much, Paris. It makes my day to talk to you.
HILTON: Bye, sweetheart. See you soon.