“I believe in everything in moderation; that is the key to life. You really just have to want it, and not be excessive — not with money, with food, with anything.” -Nicky Hilton
Well, maybe anything besides handbags. Nicky Hilton is sometimes known as a party girl socialite, perhaps in association with her sister, Paris, but the two of them are actually quite opposite in many ways. Where Paris is all about the girly, colorful, and pink things, Nicky describes her own style as “a bit more classic, almost masculine at times.” She applies her tastes to her career as a luxury handbag designer. “When I moved to New York, and I was about fourteen, I started doing a little modeling for fun. A few years later, I signed a contract for this handbag company, Samantha Thavasa, to be the face of the brand. At the shoot, we started talking, and they realized that I had a passion for the design aspect. It wasn’t only about being in front of the camera. I really loved the behind the scenes. So, they asked me to design a bag collection and test it out in a few of the shops, and it ended up doing very well.”
She took design classes at the New School and FIT, but left early to pursue real-world design projects. “I don’t think that style or fashion is something that you’re taught.” Anyone who has seen the paparazzi shots knows Nicky was born with style, and her surroundings didn’t hurt either. “I feel like I was exposed, growing up in New York City, to so much fashion at a young age — meeting some of the top designers, stylists, models. I learned so much, and I saw so much. I thought it would be fun to put all of that knowledge into a book, and sprinkle in a lot of funny fashion anecdotes, photos, and personal stories.” Her book, 365 Style introduces her technique of finding a set number of pieces you are actually going to wear. It’s a concept that’s both sexy and practical, a difficult balance to achieve. The book is also sprinkled with personal anecdotes, such as an impromptu graduation dress. “My mother had to rush over to Vera Wang’s studio and have her sew me into one of her samples.” One cannot be faulted for being born into the upper echelon, but it’s what you do with it that counts. Hilton spins her fairytale childhood stories into tangible advice for the everyday fashionista.
Hilton recently collaborated with eLuxe, where she designed various dresses, each named after a different woman in her family. “I did it very reflective of their personalities, so for the party dress, I named it after Paris of course, haha. I did a beachy bohemian tunic, and I named that after my cousin Whitney. She lives in Venice beach, and that’s very her aesthetic.” Expanding the Hilton name into shareable fashion, she’s also venturing into beauty with cat-eye makeup kits for Smashbox. “I’m always sporting a cat eye with my makeup. I like the concept of a style chameleon; I change with my environment. The LA kit — the makeup is a lot more bronzy and glowy. The New York is a little more harsh and sophisticated. London is a little more colorful and poppy.” She hasn’t left behind handbags. Hilton has a capsule collection coming out with Linea Pelle, once again transforming her last name into wearable glamour. “I started in handbags so handbags really are my true love. I love collecting them, buying them, wearing them. I named all the bags after my favorite hotels. So I have the “Bowery” Backpack and another one named after the Byblos, and the Waldorf.”
Amidst all of her professional projects, her personal life is thriving as well. Hilton got married in London at Kensington Palace’s Orangery in July to James Rothschild wearing a spectacular couture dress by Valentino. It required at least six fittings, each one requiring her to fly to Paris specifically for the fitting. She reminisced about the experience of having the dress custom made, “Couture is a different ball game — the attention to detail, the seamstresses. It’s next level.”
Photography and Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue
Fashion Editor Indira Cesarine
Make-up by Bernadine Bibiano
Hair by Clay Nielsen
Photographed at The Algonquin Hotel
This article originally appeared in The #GirlPower Issue of The Untitled Magazine (2015), pick up a print edition of the issue today!