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Nicole Richie: Confidence is the Best Thing You Can Wear

Nicole Richie: Confidence is the Best Thing You Can Wear


Nearly a decade after becoming famous as the brainier half of The Simple Life's fish-out of-water duo with Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie makes a welcome to television in NBC's new hit competition series Fashion Star. Richie, the adopted daughter of musician Lionel Richie, makes for a highly credible fashion mentor alongside Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and host Elle Macpherson, as she offers sage advice that comes from launching her own two successful fashion lines Winter Kate and House of Harlow 1960. Richie speaks with The Advocate to offer style advice for gay men, disclose the lesbian celebrity she steals fashion ideas from, and reveal whether there will ever be a Simple Life reunion.

The Advocate: You have two fashion lines of your own. How did branding your own fashion lines help with the advice you give designers on Fashion Star?
Nicole Richie: Well, what I tell all of these designers is that there's a difference in being an artist and being an actual brand and it's about making that transition and making it in a smooth and successful way. We don't want them to design some $10, 000 couture gown, because as wonderful as that is and you can definitely see their artistry, that doesn't always appeal to America. So, with this show, we're talking about how to make a name for yourself in America and how to sell to American customers.

What's the take-away message from the new show?
It's about creating clothes that are accessible and creating clothes that are immediate, because, you know men and women, but especially women right now, we are just wearing so many hats and doing so much. That's what America's all about. America is about immediate everything. So we wanted to bring something to them that was the epitome of immediate fashion, that is seeing clothes walk down a runway and then being able to hold it in your hand less than 24 hours later. Being able to order it online that night or going to the retailers the very next day is something that has never been done before.

I want to know what advice you would offer the typical gay guy. Is it more important to have a signature look or be really creative and versatile with wardrobe choices?
Growing up in L.A., I can't say there is a typical gay guy. There are many different versions of gay men. Some have good style and some don't. It's not like just because you're gay you're fashionable. I would say to any man to just dress for themselves and be comfortable in their bodies and be confident no matter what.

Who are some LGBT celebrities you think are great style icons?
I love a man who owns his own fashion. I love a man that sticks to who he is and stays true to it. Somebody who I think is doing that right now is Brad Goreski. I think that he has such cute style. I think Ellen DeGeneres has really cute style. To be honest, I think Samantha Ronson has the cutest style and even though we have very different senses of style, I get a lot of my personal fashion inspiration from her. She wears really, really cute clothes. She's got a killer closet. She always gets mad at me because I bite her style and I say, "At least I'm honest about it."

Who else inspires your style?
I'm usually inspired by the '60s and '70s. Twiggy is clearly a big inspiration of mine. Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards.

Which celebrity would you like to give a fashion makeover?
I wouldn't say that anyone needed a fashion makeover unless they truly thought that they did. I don't think that you need to necessarily be wearing the new Balenciaga leather jacket just because that's trendy if that's not you. I'm always encouraging people to dress for themselves and make themselves feel confident because confidence is the best thing that you can wear.

You have two young children Harlow and Sparrow. What advice will you give them about bullying and standing up for others?
I grew up in L.A., and my parents are from Alabama. So we did grow up very, very different. I don't want this to sound ignorant, but my parents did talk to me a little about how mean people can be and how hard it is, even to grow up as an African American. It's something that I never really understood. My dad's best friend in the world was gay and would talk to me about how hard it was and it was something that I didn't understand because I didn't experience that growing up in Los Angeles. There was no such thing, at least as far as I was concerned, there was no such as the idea that being gay was different or that being Jewish was different, or that being black was different. I was actually one of the very few people who wasn't Jewish in my school. I used to lie and pretend that I was half-Jewish so I could take the same school days off as my friends. That's actually the biggest thing that I admire about growing up in L.A., and I do get asked a lot if I worry about raising my kids here. The reason why I love L.A. so much is because I do believe that people in Los Angeles are so accepting and it's just part of life. I had never heard a negative word about anybody that was gay until I went to college in Arizona. Never heard anything different about being African American until I went to college. It really was something that was not a part of my life at all. So I'm definitely going to raise my kids to be worldly and accepting and loving and judge people by their personalities, actually not to judge people at all because that's not their place, but to really look at people for their personalities. I'm hoping that that's not even going to be an issue because it was not for me at all.

Since you're raising them in L.A., how will you help them avoid some of the pitfalls of life in the spotlight?
Well, right now they're not in the spotlight. Right now they are children and they do children things. Right now, just as a mother, I'm just doing everything I can to allow them to be children. That's something that I can't really speak on right now because I haven't hit it yet. I don't even know if it's going to be an issue. I have a 17-year-old brother and a 13-year-old sister and my sister and I are best friends. She lives about 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles. She rides horses and is playing soccer. She is a very normal 13-year-old girl. I would just have to wait and see.

It's been nearly a decade since many of us first discovered you on The Simple Life. Now you're a strong woman with two children and you're in charge of your career. In what other ways have changed in the past 10 years?
Well, it's really hard to look back because I'm me and I don't know if anybody could look at a decade of their life and pinpoint one moment. What I try and tell my children and also what I tell these designers on the show is that you should never hit a point in your life where you feel that you've just hit the jackpot and that you can just sit back and relax. Life is all about growing and learning and being open to criticism and learning from your mistakes, Mistakes can be a good thing if you're learning from them and making positive changes. I think that you always have to be open to working on yourself and growing and evolving.

Are you and Paris still friends?
Yes. Yes, we're friends. I see my friends as much as I can. All my friends and I are now well into our 30s and we're working and we all have our own lives but I love to see my friends as much as I possibly can.

Any chance of a Simple Life reunion someday?

I don't think so. I don't know how that could be possible but, you know, never say never.

Fashion Starairs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. For more on Richie, go here.

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