Nicky Hilton, the stunning heiress, is bright (she recently authored a book on style), talented (she designs fashion and handbags), and generous (she devotes her efforts to many charities). As Stephen Christopher finds, it’s easy to see why James Rothschild decided to put a ring on it.
Nicky Hilton rings me from her Lower East Side NYC flat in a voice that’s surprisingly calm for a woman who’s tying the knot in less than two weeks. “I’m the opposite of the bridezilla,” she says. “I’m very relaxed. Everything’s all set.”
Call it the clash of the trust-fund titans—Hilton, 31, is marrying James Rothschild (yes, one of those Rothschilds), at Kensington Palace in London. “I’m wearing a custom Valentino couture gown with custom Christian Louboutin shoes,” she says calmly, like it’s just another day—just another outfit. Her cream-color Loubys are embossed with the words ‘Mrs. Rothschild.’ [When older sister, BFF, and maid of honor, Paris, postedthem on Instagram, they received over 59,000 ‘likes.’]
Today Nicky’s wearing a Jenny King dress and Valentino espadrilles. She’s also splashed on some Quelques Fleurs—her scent of choice since she was 15. “My fashion moves to my mood. I like to mix it up every day, and I like to be comfortable. I’ll usually top every outfit off with a pair of ballet flats. I love Valentino or Chloe flats, and Balenciaga makes some cool gladiator ones. I love a pair of classic Tods, or Nike.”
Nicky, who admits to being very shy around people she doesn’t know, a bit impatient, and a total beauty addict, was thrilled when Davis Factor, the founder of Smashbox Cosmetics, asked her to develop an exclusive Nicky Hilton makeup kit. Actually, the collection was a no-brainer. “The cat eye is my every-day go-to makeup look,” Nicky says, “So we made The NY Classic Cat Eye Kit, The London Colorful Graphic Cat Eye Kit, and the L.A. Natural Cat Eye Kit. We created cute cosmetic cases for the kits to go in and now they’re sold exclusively on Smashbox.com.
A huge cat lover, she has two, with the collectively funny names of Mac and Cheese. “I’ve always been a cat person,” she claims, adding, “They’re so elegant and stealth and mysterious. Very independent.” “Like yourself?” I ask. “I would say so,” she replies.
Not one to shy away from work, she wrote a book, 365 Style, published last year by Harlequin, and now has another pet project, her handbag line simply named Nicky’s Capsule Collection with Linea Pelle. “When I was 17, my first foray into the fashion world was handbags. I always say it was my first true love. I love designing them and buying them—so this was really fun for me. I just wanted to keep the collection really timeless and classic so they can be in your closet for years to come.”
Google ‘Paris and Nicky’ and a zillion photos pop up of the duo carrying the latest ‘it’ bags, but for her, Nicky claims that’s changed. “When I was younger I was all about the ‘it’ bag, but no longer. They’re only ‘it’ for a short time and then you bump into everyone and their mother on the street carrying one. Now I like to pick up my handbags on my travels. Whether it’s from a flea market in San Tropez or a handcrafted one I’ve discovered while on vacation—they’re unique, and I know no one else back home will have one.”
Nicky took to her hotel roots and cleverly named the bags after her favorites, like the Bowery Crossbody, the Roosevelt Backpack, the Mercer Tote, the Chateau Satchel, and then there’s the Waldorf Canteen Crossbody—named after the storied NYC hotel that her great grandfather bought in 1949. Well, sort of. Conrad Hilton bought the Waldorf-Astoria’s management company and a 30-year lease to run it. It was Nicky’s grandfather, Barron, who polished off the deal in 1979 by buying the land the hotel sits on for the relatively paltry sum of $35 million. Last year, the Anbang Insurance Group of China paid (insert sound of cash register) $1.95 billion for the Waldorf—the most expensive hotel ever sold.
When it comes to charity, Nicky says all of the Hilton grandchildren are encouraged to be a part of the family’s Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The foundation’s assets are currently around $2.5 billion. In 2010, Barron Hilton joined Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet and other billionaires in ‘the Giving Pledge’—all vowing to give a vast majority of their wealth to charity. Barron has pledged to give 97 percent of his wealth to the Hilton Foundation.
Nicky’s also a contributor to the Race to Erase MS, the charity founded by Nancy Davis. “I lost my grandmother to MS a few years ago, so it’s one that’s near and dear to my heart. And Nancy is a very close family friend.”
Asked what she’d like to change about herself, Nicky admits she’d like to be more trusting. “I’m very, very wary of people. I don’t easily trust. I think it’s from watching people take advantage and screw people over who are close to me. I’ve seen it so many times firsthand, so I’m very cautious and have my guard up.”
The solution to that might lie in a time machine which Nicky says she wouldn’t mind rewinding to the beginning. “Sometimes I wish I was a baby again. Life was so easy. Being pushed around in a stroller. Being dressed. Getting fed. No worries…no responsibility…no accountability…pure innocence.” Wouldn’t we all?
Nicky was photographed at the Bel-Air, California home of her parents Rick and Kathy Hilton.
Art Direction: Stephen Kamifuji
Photographer: Steven Chee / dlmla.com
Stylist: Lisa Cera / TheRexAgency.com
Makeup Artist: Cecilia Moreno / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hair Stylist: Robert Steinken / CloutierRemix.com
Manicure: Denise Bourne / TheRexAgency.com