A fashionable family: Claremont sisters feature in NH Magazine

Olivia Barcelou poses for a photo with her mother Pamula at their home in Claremont. — TIMOTHY LAROCHE

CLAREMONT — Rain dripped from the corner of the roof by the patio at the Barcelou family’s house on the hill. Under the cover of the porch, Pamula Barcelou sat with her daughter Olivia overlooking the planters of black velvet petunia.

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In Claremont, if the Barcelou name rings a bell, it might be from Olivia’s grit and determination as the anchor of the Steven’s High School 4X100m state relay team. But just outside the city, her name might be more recognizable as the cover model of New Hampshire Magazine’s August edition.

Flipping only a few pages into the edition, the Barcelou name appears once again. Chloe Barcelou, Olivia’s older sister, is the first and current fashion editor for the magazine — also the featured contributor in the edition for her feature-length editorial on Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

Lately, the female side of the Barcelou family has come to be associated with high fashion, from Olivia’s recent running in the 2016 Miss New Hampshire Teen USA pageant to Chloe’s fairytale-esque fashion photography to even Pamula Barcelou’s design work and impeccable sense of style.

“It’s really good to have two creative minds that are helping me. It’s really awesome especially because we all really have the same sense of style and creative mind and drive to get things done,” Olivia Barcelou said of her mother and sister.

It’s a story that spans multiple generations of the family. Olivia’s and Chloe’s grandmother was, by all accounts, a talented seamstress who could make her own clothes. The skill was passed down to Pamula Barcelou, who in turn made custom clothing for her daughters.

“Growing up, she would design my clothes for me,” Chloe Barcelou said of her mother in a recent phone interview. “At the time, I hated it because I was 5 or 6 and I dressed different than everyone else.”

But Chloe’s early exposure to fashion and design sparked a passion in her. She attended a pre-college fashion design program at the Rhode Island School of Design one summer, a move that set her far along the current path.

“When I got home, I wanted the best Myspace picture ever,” Chloe Barcelou said. “One thing just happened to fall into another.”

These days, her involvement in the fashion world is just getting stoked — she said she has dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer or the creative director for a fashion magazine.

Likewise, Olivia Barcelou has ambitious goals and the determination to make them happen.

Red and yellow flowers adorn Olivia Barcelou’s handmade blouse. The splashes of color pop against the grey skies in a moment between rain storms. The fabric in the sleeves she found at a store one day, the rest of the material was a handed down from her grandmother.

Not too long ago, Olivia Barcelou began making some of her own outfits. After taking only a single sewing class, she started making dresses for her American Girl Dolls, but even those creations were a world of difference from the deep reds of her self-made prom dress.

“I just put things together as I go along. I never really have a set plan,” Olivia Barcelou said of making her own clothing. “I just go up there with a creative mind.”

While sewing might not be Chloe Barcelou’s niche in the fashion industry, her work crosses boundaries into just about every other aspect. As a fashion editor — a role for which she said she pitched and was hired on-the-spot — she is responsible for conceptualizing photo shoots, storyboarding, hiring photographers and models, location scouting, contacting stores to find clothing for the shoots, and assembling outfits. It’s a process that took her nearly a year to plan during her most recent completed shoot at Saint-Gaudens.

And even when the planning comes together on the day of the shoot, she’ll spend sometimes upwards of 14 hours working with the photographers and models. It can be an exhausting job for everyone involved, she said, but with it comes the ability to harness creative energies.

When Olivia Barcelou modelled for the Saint-Gaudens photoshoot, she was joined by established models as well. It was her first foray into professional modeling, a bit of high proposition compared to her backyard amateur shoots with friends.

“It was really cool,” Olivia Barcelou said. “I kind of got to look at her and get a sense of what to do, but then just began to do my own thing … being a model, you have to learn the angles and how to wear the clothes and make them look good on the photos. He said just let loose and take a photo.”

Although Chloe Barcelou planned the styles, an outside photographer, Bruce Luetters, conducted the actual shoot. With planning and shooting done, the fate of the story and photos rested with higher-up editors at the magazine.

“She’s a really good model,” Chloe Barcelou said of her sister. “She has that ‘it’ factor that a lot of photographers like.”

The feeling was unreal, Olivia Barcelou said, when Chloe called to tell her she might appear on the magazine cover. When she picked up the magazine for the first time and saw her photo on the cover, she said it was unbelievable.

“I didn’t even go into the shoot thinking I was going to get a cover,” Olivia Barcelou said. “It was crazy. It was amazing because you never even think that you could get that.”

While the younger Barcelou sister, still in high school, is just beginning her journey into the fashion world, Chloe Barcelou is changing the game. Although New Hampshire has no shortage of incredible locations for photo shoots, she said, the fashion industry in the state is still young.

With that, her work is breaking new ground, and she’s expanding the opportunities for such upcoming models as her own sister.

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