The House That Nicole Richie Built
by scott huver
White jacket, Oscar de la Renta (price on request). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-7986; oscardelarenta.com. Bathing suit, H&M ($24.95). hm.com. Moonstone and colored diamond curved ring, Lauren Craft ($2,600). Alchemist, 438 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-531-4653; shopalchemist.com.
She’s also quick to explain that her early days in the public eye were, by and large, kind of a blast. “I have very fond memories of that time,” she admits. “I was 20, 21 years old and I was doing a show with my best friend, and we didn’t really have to do much. We were just being ourselves—and playing it up for the cameras, obviously—but that show was very safe for me to do, in the sense that cameras were never in my home. They were never shooting my family. It was more about us stepping into other people’s realities, as opposed to the cameras coming into our realities,” says Richie.
While Richie was a leading figure in the vanguard of reality TV, and among the first handful to sustain fame beyond their series’ initial run, she confesses she had no career master plan. “I think I was maybe 19 when I signed on to do it, and [the producers] said, ‘You’re being offered this amount of money to do this for 30 days.’ I was like, ‘Sure! Why not?’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think there would even be a second season, much less a third or fifth one. I really was just going along with it.”
Even the subsequent gossipy reporting and speculation about her personal ups and downs didn’t phase Richie much, at least while they were happening. “It’s definitely hard to look back and remember what I was thinking at the time,” she confesses. “At that point, I didn’t really care as much, was much more accepting of it. I could tolerate a lot more. That probably wouldn’t be the situation if I was doing it now.” She knows well that every public misstep remains preserved in a pop-cultural amber that will always comprise a portion of her backstory. “The mistakes my parents made in their 20s weren’t documented, and the mistakes that I made in my 20s were,” she explains. “So that’s the only kind of bummer: that I was growing and figuring out who I was in the public eye. I’m not going to complain about it—I chose that—but a lot of people can just take their pictures and put them in a box and say, ‘All right, we’re going to forget that ever happened.’ And I can’t always do that.”
Funneling her creative energy into fashion also brought a new focus. “I’ve been getting ready for this since I was 16 years old,” Richie says. “When I actually met with my partners, [clothing manufacturers] Rick and Brian Cytrynbaum, and they asked for ideas, I said, ‘I have plenty!’ I had two huge folders of inspiration tears to show where I saw the line going, what I wanted to start with first, and where I wanted to take it eventually. This has been in my head for a very long time.” Richie’s vision resulted in a burgeoning fashion line aimed at multitasking women who aren’t afraid to take fashion risks, but, she insists, it will grow only at the pace she sets. “With Winter Kate, we started out so small,” she says. “It’s taken me four seasons even to expand into doing leathers, laser cuts, furs. I have goals for House of Harlow and for Winter Kate: Ultimately, this will be a lifestyle brand. I’m going to do home furnishings and flatware, everything. [But] right now, my focus is my family, and everything comes second to that.” What broadens her smile more than talking fashion is talking kids. “My daughter looks exactly like me, and she has Joel’s personality. She’s very careful. She doesn’t make a move without fully thinking about what the consequences would be and what that means. Sparrow looks exactly like Joel and has my personality. He’s just wild. I’m in for a ride. He’s two, and we’ve had broken fingers, we’ve been to the hospital. You cannot take your eye off of him for a second. He is just a full, free spirit.”
Knowing the pitfalls celebrity offspring face, Richie admits she hasn’t “gone there,” speculating on how her own children might fare with second-hand fame. For now, she’s enjoying the wonders of watching her kids reveal themselves in her family’s private world. “It’s very interesting to see who they are, and I’m all about encouraging them to just be themselves,” she says. “I’m not at a place yet where I’m trying to work on who they are. I’m all about them just developing exactly what they want to be, and enjoying everything about that.” Appropriate words, it seems, from someone who’s learned firsthand about the power of enjoying the journey, and making sure it took her somewhere.
photography by robert ascroft
Styling by Penny Lovell for starworksartists.com
Hair by Robert Vetica for Moroccanoil at The Magnet Agency
Makeup by Beau Nelson at The Wall Group