India Hicks On Motherhood, Princess Di's Wedding, And Bahamian Living

by The Daily Front Row

(NEW YORK) Le Jour De la Mère Heureuse! What better way to fete Mother’s Day weekend than by catching up with celebrated interior designer and mother India Hicks, who recently launched her HSN home collection, India Hicks Island Living, that includes a mélange of tropical-inspired bedding, quilts, throws, and home decor accents fit for royalty. And she would know about royalty! Hicks is, after all, Prince Charles’ second cousin… 

First things first! What was your favorite Mother’s Day of all time?
My family is spread out across London and the Bahamas, so I tend to miss a lot of Mother’s Days. But a couple of weeks ago, one of my children came back from a trip, and gave me this little glass piece scrunched up in a ball of tissue. It was miniature, the size of a finger nail. He carried it the whole way from London on boats and airplanes and cars in his sweaty hand, and I couldn’t have loved it more. So even though I may miss Mother’s Day, there are moments when the kids remember me in such sweet little ways.

Are you close with your mom?
I’m incredibly close to my mother. We share the same sense of humor; we share a love of sweets and chocolate. She’s phenomenally well-read and extremely interesting. I look up to her. But around the age of 12, I started to take over, from a practical point of view. My mother is of a generation and a background that she never had to open a milk bottle herself. So I had to show her how to do things like that very early on.

What’s the best motherly advice you’ve received?
As far as I’m concerned, there is no rule book to parenting! I really appreciate how I was brought up and how unspoiled we were as children, even though I came from a very privileged background. My mother was careful not to overindulge or over-spoil us. 

How long have you lived in the Bahamas?
Seventeen years. Now my life is somewhat frenetic, because I travel a great deal for my businesses. I have children who now go to school in other countries. But I’ve always been a country girl and living on the island has suited me very well.

What was it like to raise your kids in the Bahamas?
[laughs] It was hell and heaven all at the same time! They are very free and have great imaginations. They’re literally happy playing with sticks and making their own little camps in the woods all day long. At the same time, there are some very difficult bits to island living such as educating your children. There isn’t a permanent doctor. There is no dentist or vet and you really do have to make your own entertainment here.

But you do have access to HSN, who you’re collaborating with.
Yes, I’ve designed a home collection that brings to life the life that I lead on the island. We’ve done a very muted color palette with little shots of color here and there. That’s how we live, and that’s how I decorate and design. It’s about an organic, natural life; very casual. It’s about textures and nature. I always ask how I can compete with Mother Nature when she’s done so much of the design work for me. Things like palm fronds become a focus for some of the pieces. Patterns on the bottom of the sand also become a very important part of my designs, rather than the bright pink hibiscus flower or the umbrella in the cocktail. 

Who’s your customer?
Me, firstly! You can get very caught up in designing for a certain audience. I’ve had quite a lot of experience because I have a little shop on the island here. I used to buy thinking, ‘will the clients like this?’ In the end I just said ‘this is bullocks, I’m just designing for me!’ If I like the way these jeans fit or if I like the way this silver necklace hangs, then I’m going to put it in the shop and hope that other people like it, too. I did the same thing with HSN. I asked myself if I wanted to sleep in these sheets, or if I would be confortable having this in my guest room. I’m being true to myself, and I can’t ask for anything more than that. 

Do you shop on HSN?
I’ve just started to! I did a stint on HSN three years ago when I was selling my Crabtree & Evelyn collection, and at that stage I met Mindy Grossman, who is the CEO of HSN. Once you meet Mindy, you drink the Kool-Aid. She really redesigned HSN and has put excitement back into the company. HSN used to be quite a dirty word. Now everybody is knocking on their door trying to get in. It’s such an extraordinary vehicle and really quality product. I feel very proud to be part of that family.

OK, switching gears. Is Prince Charles really your second cousin?
Yes, he’s my godfather and my second cousin. 

And you were at his wedding to Princess Diana!
Yes. I’d grown up around him, so on one hand it felt like a family affair; and on the other hand, it was this extraordinary occasion. I rode in a horse drawn glass carriage, which is an experience that very few of us will ever have. But I was 12 years old at the time and I was very practical. I was given the job of getting Diana’s 25-foot train into the carriage and I felt like I had a job to do. I was quite a little tomboy, too, so I was panicking that I had to wear a dress. I also kept worrying about the horses and whether they’d had enough to drink! It’s only now as an adult that I look back and think about what an incredible fairytale moment that was. My mother was extremely practical, too. The following morning my mother woke up and said, “Right. On we go,” and that was that and I got back to being normal. 

Were you at William and Kate’s wedding, too?
Yes, and what was really fun about William and Kate’s wedding is that I got to report there for ABC. I was on the ground there, looking up at the palace. It was really fun to have my feet very much on the ground, feel the excitement around me, and be part of the crowd. I’ve seen two royal weddings in such a different ways! 

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