Nicole Richie knows a thing or two about second acts. In 2003, she burst onto the entertainment scene with the reality series “The Simple Life,” and now she’s back on the air-waves with another show, VH1’s “Candidly Nicole,” the second season of which premieres July 29. In between shows, she transformed herself from Hollywood hot mess to a red-carpet denizen known for her bohemian-meets-punk style. Her sartorial popularity led to the creation of House of Harlow 1960, the accessories and apparel line she’s also retooling in time for her first pop-up shop, opening at The Grove in Los Angeles on July 3 and running through the 16th.
“I’m gonna use the store as sort of a palette of where I want the brand to go. When I started with jewelry in 2008, I was still discovering who I was as a designer,” said Richie, 32, at The Grove, in between takes for her show. “Back then, I was coming from 90 percent of a creative place and now I can confidently say that I’m 50-50 creative and business. I’ve learned so much along the way, I understand the retailers now on a different level, and I know what it takes to grow our business.”
For instance, she’s diversified the line to include a wider range of styles and price points for retailers from Macy’s to Holt Renfrew. While she’s not ready to open a permanent HoH store, she plans to use the pop-up “to share my vision, to interact with my customers and to learn more about what they want from the brand.”
Of her style philosophy, Richie said, “I’m a more-is-more type of person when it comes to jewelry. When I started House of Harlow, it was basically all huge, oversize very costume-y pieces because I used to only wear chunky jewelry. Now I’m gravitating toward more delicate pieces,” though her preferred motifs still include arrows and Aztec shapes.
As for sunglasses — her favorite accessory — she never leaves home without at least one pair. “I’ve been collecting sunglasses since I was 22. I’ve got leather cases full of them, and I also have a wire grid in my dressing room where I put all the pairs I’m wearing right now, because it can very overwhelming.”
“The pop-up shop format allows consumers to experience the brand on a much more personal level,” said Kloe Colacarro, head of leasing for Caruso Affiliated, owner of The Grove. “It also lets brands experiment with in-store design and technology in addition to celebrity events and in-store activations — they embrace a new perspective on the retail experience that ultimately generates buzz, traffic and sales.”
Colacarro said two of the mall’s recent pop- ups, Paper Crown/Rifle Paper and Revolve, were both quite successful in terms of sales, with Paper Crown/Rifle Paper “significantly outperforming its sales plan in three days,” while Revolve’s success led it to looking for a permanent brick-and-mortar space” at the center.
While Richie and accessories designer Shelley Gibbs create hundreds of sku’s of fashion jewelry with partner Pascal Mouawad of Glamhouse — the line sells in 39 countries and 1,700 doors — she’s scaling her apparel collection, which is available on Shopbop.com and the HoH Web site, back to the core pieces. “I’m going back to what the root of House of Harlow really was: the camisoles, kimono and slipdresses,” she said.
Among the pieces designed exclusively for the 935-square-foot pop-up are four dresses, two tops and a pair of pants, long skirt and kimono jacket made from Indian silk. Accessories include the popular oversize Chelsea sunglasses in colors to match the clothes and a malachite jewelry group. Retail prices range from $24 to $395. In addition, Richie designed a 12-piece fine-jewelry capsule that retails for $800 to $900.
Not surprisingly, Richie’s design inspirations are classic rock of the Sixties and Seventies.
“People were using music to express themselves and they were doing the same thing with fashion,” she observed. “There was very little focus on trends, and that’s something that I want to bring back into fashion today. You don’t have to wear [the pieces] the way I do. They’re meant to be mixed with other items in your closet.”