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She’s come a long way from her days of palling around with Paris Hilton on “The Simple Life.” This year, the mother of two introduced handbags to her growing lifestyle collection, House of Harlow 1960, which already included jewelry, shoes, sunglasses and apparel. Her vision is to create pieces that are a combination of casual and luxe — much like her own personal style. Here, Richie talks about how her style has evolved since she first burst on the scene in 2003.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

WWD: How large of a role does your personal style play in your collection?
Nicole Richie:
I draw inspiration from various parts of my life and I absolutely would never design anything that I wouldn’t wear myself. But for me, the most important thing is to listen to my customers and get their feedback — I design for them.

WWD: Describe your personal style.
It’s so hard for me to answer that question whenever I get asked. It’s not that deep for me, it’s whatever I feel comfortable in at that time. I really look at fashion as a form of self-expression so just like how your moods change, my fashion choices change all the time. It’s hard for me to really say that there’s really one specific way that I dress.

WWD: Handbags were the latest addition to the House of Harlow brand. What’s next?
It’s really important for me for each business to develop its own identity. With everything I do, I want to make sure that I take the time and make each category the best that it can be. I tend to move very slowly and I do that on purpose so that I can make sure that everything that I design really is the best version of what it is.

WWD: Why do you think your line has been so successful?
To me, success isn’t measured by dollar signs. It’s really about paying attention to feedback and talking to my customer and I’m able to do that with the various appearances I do — and also through Twitter and Facebook. I’m really able to get some honest feedback from my customer, and I really try and focus on them and create what they’re expecting of me.


WWD: What is your biggest red-carpet regret?
Well, when I was a little girl, my mom used to always get us matching dresses for everything — so I was wearing the poufy skirt version of whatever my mom was wearing and I had the worst, hairiest eyebrows and a big afro. That was before I was allowed to use a flatiron. So basically, my entire childhood. My parents’ house has framed pictures of those nights all over the house, and it’s terrible.

WWD: Describe the woman you design for.
I would say that she’s a multitasker, a woman who wears many hats, someone who isn’t afraid to take risks and have fun with fashion.

WWD: Being a mother of two, how has this changed your notions of fashion?
It hasn’t. I’m still wearing 5-inch heels and my fashion really hasn’t change at all.

WWD: What’s been your go-to, must-have have item for the fall?
I just got a new Helmut Lang jacket and I’ve been wearing that a lot. I’ve been wearing a lot of blazers and that’s definitely a go-to for me.

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