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From celebrity status to fashion designer - Part I: Nicole Richie

By Sara Ehlers


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In the Los Angeles social scene, many celebrities have used their stardom status to reach new heights in the fashion industry. In fashion today, fashion houses, lines, and designers have come from some of Hollywood’s “Most Famous.” Although in this realm of entertainment, some actors and actresses catch their fiery pop-culture stature, it does not always lead to automatic success. However, a couple celebrities have broken this mold into the coveted fashion world (such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham, etc.).

More than just launching new lines and designing new concepts, these stars have surpassed through their five-minute fame into well-respected, elitist fashion positions. Whether springing an entirely new vision of fashion or anticipating meticulous details to create a sacrosanct collection, these famed stars have worked their way to become our fashion idols, moguls, and icons. The question remains: How did they get there?

One of the more known fashion stars who has seamlessly transitioned from tabloids to fashion houses is founder of House of Harlow: Nicole Camille Richie. Her rise to prominence now has her highly regarded as a fashion mogul due to her status in the industry. Although now Richie leads in her creative nature, her pathway into the fashion business was not entirely harmonious.

Nicole Richie progresses from socialite to fashion mogul

Initially Nicole Richie became famous for her role as a socialite. Alongside Paris Hilton, Richie’s first five minutes of fame came from the widely publicized reality television show The Simple Life. The show proved to be a successful hit for the Fox network with a premiere of over 13 million viewers. The Simple Life showed the dynamic duo face various obstacles such as having odd jobs and going through “simple” everyday life tasks. The series highlighted the pair’s fame, relaying them to eventually become targets of tabloid journalism. Through this television stunt, Richie acclaimed worldwide fame alongside her co-star. Inevitably, the two became famous socialites through the course of the five-season series.

After gaining recognition, Richie turned her attention towards fashion. The native Californian, born and raised in Los Angeles observed the world of costumes and designers at a young age. Her appreciation for fashion grew with the need to secure her own personal style. “Fashion gives you the ability to express yourself, your mood; it’s a creative outlet in many ways,” said Richie. After trying her hand in writing for a bit (she wrote a semi-autobiography called The Truth About Diamonds), Richie started to gain a cult-like following for her personal street style. Fashion critics and fans saw Richie as a fashion icon due to her contemporary, bohemian style. She even starred as a guest judge for Project Runway. In 2007, the starlet began a collection for a jewelry and accessories line. It was the next year that House of Harlow 1960 was born.

Nicole Richie gains elitist status by launching House of Harlow 1960

The brand, which originally started offering only jewelry, extended itself to include handbags and shoes years later. House of Harlow 1960 was largely inspired by Richie’s passion for costume dressing. “I’ve always loved the possibility of being able to transform yourself through the way of dress,” said Richie. Spring 2010 was the brand’s first debut season. Since then, the brand now offers full collections including eyewear, footwear, handbags, and ready-to-wear apparel. As Richie’s most renown business endeavor, the brand is most coveted for its high-quality jewelry. The jewelry include trendy pendants that emphasize a chic, relaxed style. The styles include statement jewelry that are embellished with sunburst-inspired designs. Most of the accessories intertwine materials such as rose quartz, ivory, and gold. Prices for her jewelry range from 38 to 210 dollars.

After its debut in the spring, Richie won “Entrepreneur of the Year” for her brand at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2010. House of Harlow 1960 is now currently available at retailers including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf Goodman. While her reps have declined to comment on sales figures, according to Business Insider, her House of Harlow 1960 line has a net worth of 2 million dollars.

Nicole Richie increases net worth through fashion lines

Richie also launched a second line of clothing entitled “Winter Kate,” named for her daughter Harlow Winter Kate. The line featured bohemian chic-inspired pieces that averaged in price around 500 dollars. The pieces paid homage to Richie’s passion for ‘70s fashion. The collection featured rompers, cardigans, outerwear, tops, and bottoms. Although known more for her work in House of Harlow 1960, Richie’s ready-to-wear line also has added to her fashion acclaim. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Richie’s lines combined are estimated to have made about 55 million in sales. Reportedly from the publication, Richie takes home only 5 percent of the sales, equaling to about 2.75 million dollars.

Richie is also known for her frequent involvement with charity work alongside with fashion. Throughout her work, Richie has supported the Red Cross, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Small Steps Project, and Unicef. With husband Joel Madden, Richie created the Richie Madden Children’s Foundation which aims to help disadvantaged young mothers and children.

Richie transitions from “The Simple Life” to #CandidlyNicole

Currently, Richie continues her line of work at House of Harlow and also attends various high-profile fashion events. Her latest event was at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York earlier this month. Besides events, Richie has returned to reality television. Her newest show is entitled #CandidlyNicole which reflects her daily adventures giving insight to the star’s style, relationships and work life. After a successful first season, the second season is set to premiere this summer on July 22.

Read Part II: From celebrity status to fashion designer - Part II: Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen

From celebrity status to fashion designer
Lindsay Lohan
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
Nicole Richie