Who’s Here: Nicky Hilton, Fashion Icon

Style icon Nicky Hilton
Style icon Nicky Hilton, Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Thinkstock

Nicky Hilton has a lot to celebrate these days—the longtime Southampton resident, fashion guru and heiress to the Hilton Hotels fortune is still beaming from her recent engagement to boyfriend James Rothschild, and her hotly anticipated book 365 Style (Harlequin, 2014) debuted this month to rave reviews from both fans and critics.

Already a household name, the ambitious and driven 30-year-old has achieved more than many successful people twice her age. Hilton began modeling as a teen in New York City, and landed on Vogue magazine’s “Best Dressed in America List” at just 16 years old. She designed a line of handbags for Samantha Thavasa at 17, and followed with a junior sportswear line, “Chick by Nicky Hilton,” in 2004. Hilton produced a line of contemporary clothing under her birth name, “Nicholai,” in 2007 and she released a jewelry collection in 2010. She continues to model and has worked as a television host, a red carpet correspondent at the Academy Awards and as a guest judge on Bravo’s Project Runway.

365 Style (written with Allie Kingsley) is Hilton’s latest endeavor and the culmination of years studying fashion and the art of style. Aided by her family’s famous name, and the wealth that goes with it, Hilton admits she had the opportunity to pursue, and likely succeed at, any career she desired, but the heiress says she’s never deviated from the industry in which she now thrives.

“I’ve always loved fashion since I was a little girl,” Hilton explains. “I feel very fortunate to have found my calling at such a young age.”

Working on her book has taken Hilton away from producing another line of clothing or jewelry, but she remains a font of creativity. “I have a notepad, it’s an old-fashioned composition book, and I just sketch and write down all of my ideas,” Hilton says, explaining that her inspiration is always well documented.

Part style guide and part personal journal, 365 Style does an excellent job of illuminating Hilton’s world, as well as her views on fashion and, more importantly, style. The book aims to help readers discover their signature look, no matter what the budget.

Hilton—who names Southampton-born First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as her “ultimate style icon”—stresses the difference between “fashion” and “style” throughout her book, and backs it up with quotes such as “Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess” by Edna Woolman Chase, and “Fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it” (author unknown).

“You can learn to be stylish, but it should be effortless. I think style is being unique and coming up with your own signature look…not chasing every trend,” Hilton continues.

“Jackie O was so iconic—she had this style about her, she always wore very tailored clothing, she had her signature big shades on—she was just so unique,” Hilton says, also pointing to Anna Wintour’s signature bob and sunglasses, Karl Lagerfeld’s gloves and Victoria Beckham’s 4-inch heels. “All these people are style icons,” she adds with unguarded reverence, “but I don’t think that should be limited to famous people.”

A style icon in her own right—known for her signature blazers and ballet flats—Hilton well understands that we can’t all be hotel heiresses. And despite her high station, she reveals herself to be remarkably accessible and generous of spirit in both her life and in the pages of 365 Style. In fact, the model and designer cum author has even given away a number of prized pieces from her personal wardrobe (Hermes bracelet anyone?) to fans as a fun way to clean out her closets and promote the book online. “Each week it does get harder to part with things, but it’s all in the name of fun,” Hilton says during an interview.

“The idea [for 365 Style] was born a few years ago when people started contacting me on my social media accounts for fashion advice,” she says, explaining that young girls would ask what to wear on dates or job interviews, and Hilton would respond to them. “It started happening more and more frequently…so I thought, why not write a book on it?”

Hilton’s 365 Style presents her formula for helping readers organize their wardrobes and create a signature style by focusing on the three main aspects of one’s lifestyle, choosing six staple items of clothing and adding five essential accessories—as she says, “It’s as easy as 3-6-5!” Hilton’s simple plan is designed to put together savvy wardrobe selections that stay “on-trend and out of hoarder status, for good.”

No stranger to the Hamptons, Hilton says she enjoys her family’s Southampton home most during the offseason, especially in the fall, so she may find time for some R and R here during what is sure to be a busy time promoting 365 Style.

“I cannot wait for fall—fall is my favorite season to dress for,” Hilton says. “I’m sort of an outerwear addict, so I’m very much looking forward to breaking out my coats and wearing scarves and crossbody bags and all those fun accessories,” she adds. “I like it because it’s not hot and it’s not too cold, and it’s that crisp weather and the air…fall in the Hamptons is just…I love it,” she says.

“My idea of happiness in the Hamptons is starting off the weekend going to all the organic farmstands, going to Citarella, stocking up my fridge with amazing food and then inviting friends over and cooking and watching movies and sitting by the fire and relaxing,” Hilton says, also sharing memories of family weekends in Southampton.

“We would come out Friday after school, and we love going to La Parmigiana, doing an Italian family pizza meal, sometimes going to the movie theater or coming home and watching movies and then just going to the beach. I love Catena’s in Southampton, the butcher. We would pick up amazing sandwiches and do like a little picnic on the beach.

“And then Sunday we love doing a big family barbecue where every family member is assigned to cook one dish, sort of like a family pot-luck.

“It’s such a magical escape from New York City. I honestly think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Hilton says, adding, “I’ve been to a lot of places—I just find it so charming and quaint and lovely.”

Click here for our web exclusive: 10 Questions with Nicky Hilton.

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