Who is the mysterious man-about-town who won the heart of America’s favorite “It” Girl/style icon/TV starlet Olivia Palermo? Meet the devastatingly dashing and handsome Johannes Huebl, who ditched a career in business, moved to New York to model for mega-labels like Cole Haan, Hugo Boss and Hogan, and quickly became a society favorite. We talk to Huebl about his low-key life with Palermo in Brooklyn (where paparazzi regularly snap the couple and their neighbor Anne Hathaway), his favorite New York hangouts and his next career move.
When did you move from Germany to New York? I moved to New York about seven or eight years ago. In Germany, we finish school after 13 years and you have to do military service or social service—it’s mandatory—so I served in the military. Right after that I started studying business economics in Hamburg for three years, took a year off and started modeling a little on the side. I went to Paris, Milan and London and after a year I came back to study cultural science. Once that was done, my agency in New York, Wilhemina, asked me if I wanted to come to New York and make this [modeling] a full-time job. But there’s so many other things I do on the side. I am also a photographer. Olivia and I work on editorial for her website. Unfortunately we both travel so much that we don’t always have a lot of time but we frequently work on a section for Olivia’s site called ‘I Want What She’s Wearing’ and I’ll shoot her editorially. Recently, I snatched two new photography jobs, so I am looking forward to that. At some point I will be able to make the full transition into photography. My modeling work is just very busy at the moment.
Speaking of modeling, you’ve been traveling all summer for jobs, where to next? I have to go back to a job in Germany for Hugo Boss. Right after that, I have another job in London; from there I fly to Ibiza for a good 12-day summer vacation. Then I’m going to the South of France and Majorca for other jobs. In September I usually spend time in New York for campaign season. I just shot a DKNY advertisement with Ashley Greene and Peter Lindbergh. Even though I’m not in New York very much this summer, the 3 weeks in September is the perfect end with a still warm summer at home.
When you do find time, where are your favorite places to go in New York? My all time favorite place that is Cafe Gitane on Mott Street. It’s a really nice spot—the food is fantastic and it’s very well priced. I like going out to dinner and having the option of doing something after and ACME has a really cool bar so it’s fun to stay there after you eat. I also love Sant Ambroeus in the West Village—which is probably one of my favorite areas next to Dumbo—but I like Le Bilboquet, as well. We drive uptown quite a bit because Olivia’s mom lives up there so we have lunch with her or go to the park.
Why did you choose to live in Brooklyn? I love being in Brooklyn. I didn’t have a preconceived notion of moving to New York and living in a certain neighborhood. I just came here and a friend of mind referred me to an apartment that happened to be in Brooklyn Heights. It was late August and it was this beautiful, European-like area. I ended up staying there for about three years with my flat mate, my best friend from Montreal, and at some point we slowly moved over to Dumbo. I wanted to live in this particular building [in Dumbo] and my friend and I were shown a few places, including a beautiful loft, so we moved right in. At the time, Olivia was living in Tribeca, but about a year later we both decided it was time to stop going back and forth [to each of our apartments] so we found a new apartment in the building I was living in. We’re really happy—we’ve been there together for about three years now.
As a native Upper East Sider, did you have to convince Olivia to move to Brooklyn? The building we live in makes the transition very easy. We have the two parks in front of the house, we have a beautiful view and Olivia likes to get away from the city just like me. Of course it was new for her, but we have a little dog and she sees so many upsides of living here. Now she doesn’t want to live anywhere else. A lot of people have that [feeling] with Dumbo I think.
You are dating an international style icon and you, yourself, are one of the most well-dressed men in New York. What are you going to be wearing this fall? I have a few things that are fall related, like a herringbone three-piece Zegna suit, but otherwise I hardly have trend-related things. Most of my fashion is the typical Italian/English way of dressing without too many things that you’ll see on fashion blogs or on the runway. For classic wear I have a few suits that I just had made by my tailor in Germany, who I’m really fortunate to have. A friend introduced me to him and now we work together all the time. I can tell him exactly what colors and fabrics I’d like and he gets them to me in 6-8 weeks. It’s really nice to have a suit that I designed and fits the way I like. For leisure wear, a lot of my stuff is Bruno Cucinelli. I like to always pair classics with subtle details. I don’t wear much jewelry except for maybe a watch. I tend to wear tassel shoes for some reason, but again, they aren’t trend-related—though they might have different colors for the season. I like cargo and chino pants, and I would probably always wear a button down and blazer or sports jacket.