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Meet Paloma Elsesser: The New-School Beauty Icon We've Been Waiting For

by Faith Xue

It feels fitting that Paloma Elsesser would choose Dimes as the location of our interview. Though local foodies love the Lower East Side micro-eatery for its California-inspired menu, the cozy nook of a restaurant tucked between Orchard and Ludlow on Canal is perhaps equally known as a haunt of choice for NYC cool kids. You know—the ones whose faces, art, and work you’ve probably seen in your daily Instagram scroll? You might not know their names by heart, but you’d do a double take if you ever saw them out in public. Elsesser certainly fits in this crowd, although, if her recent modeling trajectory is any indication, it’s only a matter of time before she joins the first-name-only moniker club (and not just because “Paloma” is a great name).

It’s a muggy Friday morning, and there’s a damp, listless feeling to the summer heat. Inside Dimes, however, is a bustle of movement and chatter. Elsesser is easy to spot, perched atop a stool at the bar in a vinyl trench coat—a cool-kid fashion call if there ever was one. She’s makeup-free—her caramel skin is objectively perfect—and her long, jet-black hair is tucked into a low bun. We make our way over to our booth where I let her do most of the ordering, as this is clearly not her first time here, taking her suggestion to get the breakfast sandwich (I add bacon to mine; Elsesser is a vegetarian). We decide to split the matcha pancakes between the two of us because it’s Friday, and you should always get the pancakes. Elsesser jokes around with our waiter, whom she knows by name, and there’s an ease she exudes that only happens when you’re somewhere that feels like home—but perhaps it’s not limited to the confines of the restaurant. “I grew up in L.A., but I grew up in New York,” she tells me, taking a sip of her juice. “I became a person. I figured out my own pace, what I like to do, and how I like to do it here in the city. I fell, I picked myself back up—and I did a lot of that on my own. New York is now my home.”

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