Essays - Olivia Stren



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Story Time

ELLE Canada

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July, 2020

WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, I couldn’t walk into the basement of my family’s house in Toronto without tripping over a book about, say, sustainable urban development in Tanzania. The basement has long moonlighted as my dad’s office, though how he manages to read or work or exist in those book-strewn wilds remains as obscure […]

The Way

ELLE Canada

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November, 2019

My grandmother’s funeral was the kind of party that she would only have attended over her dead body. The sun beamed down on the cemetery with the gaudy radiance of a Broadway diva, gold-lamé arms outstretched on a blue stage, stealing Grandma’s show. The rabbi, beard bedewed with sweat, shared sentimental generics about a woman […]

Raw Samples

FASHION magazine

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October, 2019

It’s noon on a cold, seasonally confused June day, and I’m standing in Manhattan’s SoHo under a torrent of sharp rain, its drops as fine as sewing needles. I’m somewhere in the middle of a queue that squiggles its way like rickrack down two city blocks, and there’s a thrum of anticipation and anguish in […]

I am a Butler

January, 2019

The only parenting book I read before my almost-4 year-old son Leo was born was Pamela Druckerman’s 2012 Bringing up Bebe. As an American transplant raising kids in France, Druckerman observed that the gallic child is not the sun in the familial solar system. I prepared myself to nurture and prune a bien-élevé (well-mannered) toddler—the […]

Energy Crisis

FASHION magazine

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January, 2018

When my son was born, he greeted the world with a soft cry—and a big yawn. I knew in that instant that this was my child. I have never been what you’d call a high-energy person. At summer camp, my favourite activities were crafts (you can’t, say, jog while braiding gimp) and “rest.” In the […]

She’ll Take You There


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November, 2017

I recently purchased an unreasonable number of outfits in shades of white and cream. When I wear them, I feel fresh, well-leisured, like the kind of person who lets other people worry about the tedium of laundry—i.e., rich. That is, totally unlike myself. Not long ago, as my two-and-a-half-year-old, Leo, approached my creamy new dress, […]

The Color Cure

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ELLE (U.S.) 

May, 2017

“Your mother looks like a gypsy,” a so-called friend once said to me, referring to the clothes my mom would wear to pick me up from school—no doubt making an entrance. It was the mid-80s. I was about 10 years old. Among all the other mothers, sensibly dressed in their sweatshirts and jeans or Angela […]

You Must Remember This

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FASHION magazine

March, 2017

 It was springtime in Paris. Horse-chestnut and almond trees were in white, fluffy bloom, and children were floating toy sailboats across the Jardin du Luxembourg’s Grand Bassin. I was about 12 years old, and I was in giddy, heart- fluttering love—with a bag. My mom and I were visiting my aunt, and the three of […]

The Nanny Diaries

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ELLE Canada

August, 2016

A few years ago, I was invited to take a Silversea cruise through the Caribbean. Ordinarily, a week on board a cruise ship (the enormous kind, where you find yourself corralled into a Zumba class in the a.m. and sloppily adhered to the back of a conga line in the evening) would not entice. But […]

Tidy Up Your State of Mind

The Kit

July, 2016

 A few weeks ago, I turned 40. At the dawn of middle age, I have spent too much time bemoaning the passage of time. My mother is French, so nostalgia for all that is irrecoverable has proven both hobby and birthright. (I know, I shouldn’t blame my mother. I’m too old for that now.) I […]