The reality TV star-turned-designer Nicole Richie brought her fashion label House of Harlow 1960 to Dubai to mark the close of the 20th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival. The 33-year-old showcased her collection at a pop-up shop and styled sessions at The Beach along Jumeirah Beach Residence. Before Richie founded her boho-luxe label in 2008, she was best known for her high jinks on the reality series The Simple Life alongside her then best friend Paris Hilton. Today, Richie still lives life through a lens, with her current reality show Candidly Nicole returning to VH1 for a second season this spring. The programme, based on the witty musings of Richie’s Twitter feed, charts the life of the designer who is now wife to Joel Madden and mother to their two children. The irreverent style savant reveals all about life, her label and her famous father Lionel Richie.
What have you made of the UAE’s fashion scene and why was Dubai a choice market for you?
Well, I’ve been here less than 24 hours so it’s hard to judge, but I must say that people here have a “look”. They take risks, they go for it and have fun with fashion. That’s really exciting for me and why I started this brand in the first place.
Any plans to open a boutique here?
I’d love to be here permanently in Dubai. I think that the city is really great at nurturing brands and it knows how to speak to customers; helping them understand what brands are all about. So yes I’d like to be here..
How do we best understand your brand?
It’s eclectic, fun and meant to be layered with other pieces. It’s supposed to make you feel free, confident and happy. It’s very music-inspired and I love the late 1960s, early 1970s, classic rock – that’s what hits home for me. I also love hitting flea markets wherever I am and especially if I’m travelling with my husband. I love finding new patterns, a colour, even a lampshade that I feel could be used as an earring! I like seeing alternative uses for things.
What are your three top picks from this capsule collection?
The shorts with suede fringing, the Chelsea sunglasses and the candles. I’ve taken my first step into homeware with the candles this year, so I’ll probably be expanding upon that. I love interiors and I love design so I’d say that would be a natural next stage.
Where do you stand on trends?
I’m not a big fan of trends in general; I think it takes the fun out of fashion. It should be used as a form of self-expression. Throw trends out the window. They can be overwhelming and alienate women, who should just focus on what makes them feel the most confident.
You were surrounded by the glitz, glamour and costumes of the entertainment world as a child. Was your brand in any way born out of that?
Yes it was, I love the idea of dressing up and using fashion as a form of self-expression. You see it with musicians all the time and I love that kind of dramatic, over-the-top costumey feel.
Which of your dad’s stage outfits do you remember most fondly?
Well, I have some “un-favourites” [laughs]. The Afro, the bangles, the beaded bell-bottoms – the list goes on and on. Luckily for me, I was born in 1981 so I wasn’t around to see the worst of it but the pictures survived and they are mortifying.
What’s the best advice he has given you?
My dad gives me a lot of advice, and I don’t know whether this is an example of specific “advice”, but he’s an extremely kind person and incredibly grateful for everything he has. He loves his family very much and he’s such a nice person. He treats everyone with respect and that’s something I’ve always admired.
What’s your favourite song from his back catalogue?
Ballerina Girl was written for me so I’d say that one.
When you call him does he ever answer the phone singing Hello?
Ha, well when I call him he is very entertaining. Instead of him singing Hello he’ll say: “Showtime” and I say: “Er, no, dad, let’s take it down a notch.”
You rose to prominence in The Simple Life where we got to see the wilder, unfiltered side of your personality. Was there something that triggered the change to the quieter wife, mother and charity-working entrepreneur that we see on Candidly Nicole today?
Well, my path has been my path I guess. I started The Simple Life when I was around 21 and it’s been a natural evolution and growth since then. It’s been a great journey.
Are you still in touch with Paris Hilton?
Yes I am.
Your brother-in-law Benji Madden married Cameron Diaz on January 5. You’re credited for having brought them together. What led you to believe they’d be a good match?
Ha, that’s actually not my field to discuss. You’ll have to ask them.
The House of Harlow 1960 pop-up shop will run until February 1 at The Beach, opposite Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.
Follow Nicole on Twitter here.
For more information about Dubai Shopping Festival go to http://www.mydsf.ae/
House of Harlow: style snapshot
Jewellery: Aztec-inspired statement necklaces, tribal pave pendants, tessellation earrings & geodesic cocktail rings from Dh44
Apparel: printed minidresses, fringed shorts, sheer tasseled tops and kimono jackets, from Dh80
Clutches: embossed snake, leopard print and metal fringed from Dh616
Shoes: suede ankle booties, embroidered moccasins and print flip-flops from Dh143
Sunglasses: Retro shades in tones of lavender, grapefruit and teak from Dh459
Jan 29th, 2015 – The National – Written by Rebecca McLaughlin-Duane