How I Shop: Nicky Hilton Rothschild

The Nicky Hilton x Tolani designer and heiress also dishes on how Kim Kardashian factors into her biggest fashion regret.
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Nicky Hilton Rothschild outside Oscar de la Renta's Fall 2018 show during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images

Nicky Hilton Rothschild outside Oscar de la Renta's Fall 2018 show during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."

Nicky Hilton Rothschild has come a long way since those low-slung jeans, Von Dutch trucker hats and paparazzi-captured Kitson shopping days of early-aught yore. Or, wait —   scratch that last one, because the heiress, businessperson and designer just held a trunk show for her design project, Nicky Hilton x Tolani Mommy + Me, at the resurrected iteration of the celebrity-loved 2000s shopping mecca, Kitson Kitross. It's all come full circle.

But instead of running from the paps in circa-2000 slogan tees and low-riding denim (more on that below), Hilton Rothschild and her older sister Paris quietly held court in soft, floral-printed beach-y tunics from the collection, while posing with toddler influencers Mila and Emma Stauffer modeling the "me" portion of the collection. (Paris, of course, cradled her teeny teacup chihuahua Diamond Baby while clad in a glitter crown and tulle dress. Never change, Paris, never change.) 

Nicky Hilton Rothschild in a Nicky Hilton x Tolani look. Photo: Courtesy

Nicky Hilton Rothschild in a Nicky Hilton x Tolani look. Photo: Courtesy

The Tolani collaboration isn't Hilton Rothschild's first foray into fashion design. In the mid-aughts, of course, she launched two of her own clothing lines: Chick by Nicky Hilton and the higher-end Nicholai. She's also designed a capsule of handbags with Japanese brand Samantha Thavasa — like fellow mid-aughts socialite and future "Real Housewife of New York City" Tinsley Mortimer — and, recently in 2015, Linea Pelle. Now, as the proud mother of two adorable daughters under the age of two, Lily and Teddy, Hilton Rothschild is expanding into the childrenswear category, but with options for herself, of course.

"The pieces in my collection are very versatile, so I've been belting a lot of the dresses and tunics and wearing them as tops with jeans under or pairing them with gladiator sandals," the New York-based Hilton Rothschild tells Fashionista over the phone from her second home in Los Angeles. 

Considering how much her retail habits have been documented over the years, a deep dive into Hilton Rothchild's shopping philosophy is probably long overdue. Despite once telling me to shop less, this time around, she was more than happy to go way back and reminisce about spending luxurious days at Bergdorf Goodman as a child, dish on shopping with her sister and reveal her biggest fashion regret, which involves both Dior saddle bags (they're baaaack) and her former closet-cleaner, Kim Kardashian.

Hilton Rothschild at Alice + Olivia's Spring 2018 presentation during New York Fashion Week Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Hilton Rothschild at Alice + Olivia's Spring 2018 presentation during New York Fashion Week Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

"I'm old-fashioned and I like shopping in person. I love the whole experience of it. I'll do occasional online shopping if I know my size or whatever. But for shopping, I like to touch, feel, try on. 

I love department stores. Bergdorf Goodman is one of my favorite places. I could spend all day there. The beauty department is so good, and the restaurant has the best food — I love the tea sandwiches. I've been going there since I was a child. You could go to lunch, do a little shopping, get your hair done on the top floor, get a facial. It's like a one-stop-shop. It has the best shoe department.

I tend to go toward silhouettes which I think are flattering. I love short dresses. I love the classics — like a fitted blazer, a trench, the little black dress — and I love to pair them with accessories. I would say my go-to outfit is skinny jeans, a T-shirt and blazer and ballerina flats. I love Topshop jeans, and the Joni [skinny] style is my favorite. I love their maternity jeans, as well, and I love L'Agence Margot skinny jeans. Definitely these days, I dress more for practicality. For example, I'm nursing, so I'm always trying to wear something that's easy to get in and out of as fast as possible, like buttons in the front or zippered things. 

With two children, I don't shop very often. It's usually a spontaneous thing, like if a meeting finishes early, or I just so happen to run by a shop. But before children, I was much more of a shopper. These days, I'm more excited to shop for my children than for myself. I never thought that day would come and I never understood mothers, but it's true. Although recently, I bought these really cool Coach gladiator heel things, which I just wore at my trunk show at Kitson on Saturday. I love that they're Bohemian; they're chunky; they're cool. 

Kitson just had the coolest... everything. Everyone was shopping there and it was the place to shop. I remember wearing the Team Aniston, Team Jolie shirts [with my sister Paris]. We bought so much stuff and we were walking out of the store and they were like, 'Here, we're gonna gift you these.' We just threw them on and, lo and behold, there was paparazzi outside.

It was always great shopping with my sister because we have such different styles, so we never fought over anything. I don't even really think I own anything pink. She was always after the pink, glittery stuff and I like the more muted, masculine styles. So, we kind of bounce ideas off of each other, but I think Paris hates shopping. She isn't a shopper. She has her stores she likes and they'll send her things and then she just sends back what she doesn't like.

I like to do it, though. I peruse and see everything and decide. I'm an impulse shopper. I don't go with a plan, like, 'I need to go buy jeans today' and 'I need to go buy a dress.' It's always very random, whatever catches my eye. My most memorable impulse buy is a rhinestone Dolce & Gabbana bra. I remember it was my first big purchase when I bought something with my own money. I feel like I was 18 or something. I wore it with a British flag rhinestone Dolce & Gabbana matching skirt to the CFDA Awards [in 2000]. I don't know where it is. Sadly, through all the moves, it could be in storage or lost. 

Oh my God, I was just at my sister's and she still has some of those Dior saddle bags laying around. I was like, 'I got rid of all of mine!' I'm sure you saw the runway show and they're bringing it back this season. I do regret, though, getting rid of all the saddle bags. I remember when Kim Kardashian had her closet-cleaning business, I gave them all to her and she got rid of them for me. Just all of that Dior logo-ed stuff; it's gone. The 'I Adore Dior' T-shirt... It's a lesson learned. You have to save your classic pieces.

Hilton Rothschild, one of her Dior saddle bags and former Dior Chief Executive Sidney Toledano at a Christian Dior Couture-sponsored event in 2003. Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Hilton Rothschild, one of her Dior saddle bags and former Dior Chief Executive Sidney Toledano at a Christian Dior Couture-sponsored event in 2003. Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

I will never, ever get rid of anything Chanel. It never loses its value. I do keep things. I am a little bit of a hoarder in that sense. I always knew that I was going to have daughters and I wanted to save those pieces for them. Because the pieces my mom saved for me, I cherish. Her old Alaïa, Zandra Rhodes and Pucci pieces, I love love. Bob Mackie — all of that '80s stuff, I have. It's so not Paris's style, so she gave them to me. For my daughters, I'm saving my jewelry, of course, but even some of the classic pieces, like Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. Those are timeless. They never go out of style.

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I love picking up things in places while traveling. Shopping today, though, everything is available everywhere. I remember when Poupette St. Barths came out and they had their little shop, and people would look forward to going there and getting their beautiful cover-ups. And now, which is good and bad, everything is available [online]. So, if I'm on vacation, I'm picking up local things from little stands and a hand-crafted necklace, a beach bag. I got one of my favorite straw baskets, this past summer, in St. Tropez in the market. You know, their market they do on Sundays? [Editor's note: One of these?] You want to be unique.

The Hiltons at Monse's Fall 2018 party at New York Fashion Week. Photo: by CJ Rivera/Getty Images

The Hiltons at Monse's Fall 2018 party at New York Fashion Week. Photo: by CJ Rivera/Getty Images

I love vintage. I always use a tailor for vintage stuff, so don't be scared if it's a big, frumpy frock, because, with a little tailoring, you can turn it into something perfect for you. The flea markets in Paris are incredible. What Goes Around Comes Around has some cool pieces. And then, online, Etsy, has some great vendors for vintage dresses. I do love Etsy. I got so many cool things for my baby nursery from there. I got this handmade mobile, which is a little kitten made out of yarn, and a bunch of cool vintage prints and this amazing handmade rug. So, yeah, for décor, Etsy is very cool. Because it all goes back to getting unique things that everyone doesn't have. Like, even department stores, their contemporary floors are all the same: Rag & Bone and Vince... I'm loving Monse and their masculine, deconstructed pieces. I think they're very cool and different. 

My favorite piece that I've worn the longest: In my 20s, I got this Joseph leather motorcycle jacket in Paris and it's so soft and worn, and a motorcycle leather jacket never goes out of style. But my big platforms, like the Saint Laurent Tributes, I don't really wear any of those these days and I have quite a collection of them. But maybe I'll save them for the girls.

I just remember getting rid of all the Dior saddle bags right after that moment finished and it was just everywhere. It was so over-saturated. But the lesson learned is history always repeats itself. Hang onto those things!"

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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