Nicole Richie is an American fashion designer, author and television personality and was in Sydney as the international ambassador for Saturday’s Golden Slipper race at Rosehill Gardens. The mother of two is well acquainted with Sydney, having spent extended periods of time here because her husband, Joel Madden, is a judge on The Voice Australia. I caught up with the 33-year-old to chat about her first time to the track, finding inspiration through classic rock and her no-shoes policy when hosting a dinner party.
Have you ever been to the races before?
I’ve never been. [Yesterday was] is my first time.
You must get so many requests from around the world. What made you align yourself with the Golden Slipper?
Well, I feel very close to Australia. I really do feel like it’s my second home. We’ve spent so much time there, Joel is an honorary Australian. So I’m going to ride on his coattails there and I just assume that I’m an honorary Australian also. I’ve always heard about the races for so many years and how much fun it is, so I’m extremely honoured to be a part of it.
You judged fashions on the field. What do you look for when you’re judging?
I think it’s more than just what people are wearing. It’s how they’re wearing it and what’s behind it and the energy and tone behind the fashion. With fashion, there is something that’s not tangible; it’s just something that you could feel behind when people are really expressing themselves. And I think that that’s probably what I [look] for the most: self-expression through an outfit.
Do you have any favourite Australian designers?
Scanlan & Theodore is always a must-go to for me when I’m in Australia because we don’t have it in the US.
What is a day in the life of you when you’re not in Australia?
The only thing consistent about my days is the time that I wake up, and that’s about 5.30 in the morning. My body just naturally wakes up at that time. But it’s great because I’m up about an hour before the rest of my family and I have time to be by myself and focus on what I want to do for the day and just get centred. First thing I do in the morning is get my kids ready for school and make them breakfast, then take them to school. And then, after that, I’m going straight to work – [often] in the design studio. Mostly, House of Harlow is really what I do every day. But it changes, obviously, when I’m doing Candidly Nicole, which I start shooting the second season of two days after I land back home from Australia.
Are you involved in every design process with House of Harlow 1960, or how does it work?
I am. I am the creative director. I obviously work with an amazing team of technical designers around me. But I am involved in really everything: designing, creating the vibe for the season, merchandising. I’m definitely in front of it all.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I would say the first thing is music for me. I’m hugely inspired by classic rock. It’s kind of what got my focus on the fashion at that time. The brand is named House of Harlow 1960 [and] when you actually explore the music of that time and look even deeper into fashion, everybody was really in touch with who they were, and they were all about taking different roads into expressing that. That’s something that I felt is the fun in fashion. This is why we love picking our clothes. It’s actually the opposite of shallow. It’s figuring out how you’re going to express yourself and tapping into that part of yourself, tapping into your artistry, tapping into what drives you; it’s the colour and texture. It’s so fun to me. It’s what makes me understand myself even more.
What is the best part of what you do?
The best part of what I do is just how much I laugh. I feel lucky every day that I am able to do that. The best thing about my show is that, as much as I’m laughing and making fun of myself and we’re all joking along, I actually really do learn about whatever topic we are talking about, and it has kind of given me this platform to learn and expand my knowledge more and have fun at the same time and work.
What is the worst?
There are challenges, I would say, in any field of work. Of course, leaving town is hard on me because I have two small kids.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
We entertain at home a lot. We do a lot of informal dinner parties. It’s a very busy household. I love having an intimate group of 10 people at my house for dinner. I also really love being alone too. So sometimes, if Joel is out of town and I’ve been working all day, I really do love to just stay home, read, meditate or just watch bad TV; do whatever I want to do, just do it alone.
What’s your favourite bad TV show?
My favourite show right now is Scandal. It’s definitely not bad, but it’s such an amazing show!
What’s your secret to a great dinner party?
Well, there’s no shoes allowed. I think that kind of sets the tone for it being very relaxed, and that’s how I want people to feel in my house. So I burn candles around the house and play good music and everybody is just very relaxed. That’s kind of the vibe when we do it.
If you could have anyone alive or dead, whom would you have at your house for a dinner party?
I don’t know, but my friend once said a certain celebrity and then “my dad so he can pay for it and then Karl Lagerfeld so he could photograph it”. I thought that that was genius. I’m not going to steal his quote but I think that’s a great idea.
WE WENT TO The Park Hyatt, The Rocks
WE ATE Chicken Caesar salads.
WE DRANK Cafe latte & sparkling water.
NICOLE WORE Toni Maticevski skirt & The Row top.
I WORE Roland Mouret dress.