Nicole Richie on Y2K Fashion, The Real Housewives, and Living the Actual Simple Life


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Nicole Richie famously caught on fire last week, but the truth is, she’s been hot for a while—so long, in fact, that some of her Gen Z fans have never even seen her 2003 TV breakout, The Simple Life. That’s because in the ensuing years, Richie has become a savvy style mogul in her own right with her brand, House of Harlow 1960. She’s made the line a hit by digging deep into ’70s glam rock vibes, with slinky silhouettes and velvet textures available on the trend mecca that is Revolve. “I’ve been obsessively involved from day one,” she says from her home in California. “I source the crystals that we use in the jewelry myself, and charge them in the full moon.”

Here, Richie talks more about channeling her love of nature into her new fine jewelry collection, how her designs connect to her flock of chickens, and what it would take for her to join The Real Housewives. (Spoiler: It could happen.)

Your New York Fashion Week presentation was a virtual forest. Why?

Because I don’t think you should have to choose between being glamorous and being fully in nature. It’s a huge inspiration to the collection as a whole, because I’m working with rich tones and a luxe feel but also having it be fully about appreciating being outside and outdoors. I wanted to put the two together. I would wear these clothes everywhere, outside and inside.

Do you remember your first Fashion Week?

Oh my god. I went to, like, six different shows. It was such a big deal for me, and I didn’t know anything about it. I was going to so many fashion shows, and then going to so many parties. Seriously, how did I have all this energy?!

I remember seeing you mobbed outside Marc Jacobs back in the day. Someone was following you around with a tape recorder asking what you thought of the show.

It was Marc [Jacobs], the person! He really wanted to know what I thought. He was like, “Nicole, I can’t wait any longer! Tell me what you think.” [Laughs.] No. That wasn’t it.

Your fine jewelry collection is inspired by honeycombs—

But it’s not literal. It’s not bee-shaped jewelry. It’s more of a vibe. There are natural stones like citrine, and lots of gold… I own 200 bees, and they inspire me. It’s meditation being around them. I even take off my gloves sometimes when I’m harvesting.

Does that hurt?

No, it’s amazing. We’re speaking a silent language together. We need to learn to understand and support bees, because if they’re not here on earth, we won’t be here. I think we can learn so much about ourselves through insects.

What do you do with the honey?

I give it to my friends. I guess I could sell it, but I like to say it’s so exclusive that it’s not for sale right now. It’s only for my friends, family, and loved ones. You’ve gotta know me to get it. I guess I could sell it! I have boxes and boxes of it. [But] I just want people to want it more! It’s how I keep friends. [Laughs.]

Sounds a little Goop-y! I can definitely see Gwyneth Paltrow selling honey from her own hives.

Wait, does she have her own bees? I don’t know! You should say, “That’s feeling a little house of Harlow-y. I’m the one that has them!”

You’re right. Speaking of your influence, how do you feel about the early 2000s coming back on the runways? You were a pioneer of those looks. What’s it like seeing them on Gen Z pop stars now?

The 2000s trend is something I don’t really recognize. It feels very different to how I remember it. I think we’re cherry picking what we want out of it. And some of the things I wore, I still have. Some I’ll never wear again. Getting dressed has to be about right now. It’s about self-expression. You don’t want to think, Will I be embarrassed in 20 years? Because you will. You will laugh at yourself in 20 years. So be loose about it. Enjoy.

What pieces do you still own from back then?

Bed jackets! I was wearing those then, and I still love them now. I have all my headscarves. I have all my jewelry, of course. And you know, I have all my old Louboutins, but I can’t fit into them anymore, because I had children.

Who do you dress up for these days?

My chickens. When I visit them, I walk into an environment with all females. I know they’re gonna judge me. I want to look good for them.

Have you used any of their feathers in a House of Harlow design?

I asked them about this collection, and they said I couldn’t take any of their feathers. I’m gonna talk to them again next season, though.

There are murmurs that you may join Real Housewives. Is there any truth to those rumors, or should we bank on seeing Nikki Fre$h instead?

Nikki Fre$h is still alive and well! She’s coming back bigger and better than ever. I am not going to be a Housewife. I am too short to be a Housewife, I think. It’s such a presentation and it’s so theatrical. I would want to really come correct. But I’m too small to flip tables. I can’t hit anyone or smash anyone’s windows. So I’m not sure it’s for me. But if one of the Housewives wants to hire Nikki Fre$h as a performer? She would do it—for a lot of money.

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