Model-turned-designer India Hicks, 48, is the founder of an eponymous lifestyle brand encompassing clothes, jewelry, accessories and home decor, launched in 2015. The daughter of famed interior designer David Hicks and granddaughter of the last viceroy of India (hence her name), Hicks is the goddaughter of Prince Charles and first came to the public’s attention as one of the bridesmaids at his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer. After boarding school in Scotland and a brief stint at art school in London, she came to Boston to study photography at the New England School of Photography. Her career on the other side of the camera launched after she caught the eye of Ralph Lauren, and she was one of the top fashion models of the ’80s and ’90s before turning her attention to design. She resides in the Bahamas with her significant other and their five children, and she has published two books, Island Life and Island Beauty.
India Hicks: Well, before that, I’d been at a slightly unusual school in the north of Scotland called Gordonstoun, and I fell in love with this Greek. He came to Boston College, and I followed him here.
What was your first impression of Boston? I loved it. But then, I think Boston lends itself exactly to the two periods of my life when I’ve spent time here. That period of time when I was a student, and I lived on Comm. Ave. near BC, and now, because I’ve got kids in school near here. It’s just such a nice city. New York is so pushy and overwhelming. Boston is just so easy. You can walk everywhere. I feel incredibly safe here.
Who is the person whose taste you emulate, if anyone? Well, inevitably there are large chunks of David Hicks lying around. When I look at interiors, certainly. I also had an extraordinarily glamorous grandmother, and when I think of stylish women, she always comes to mind.
What’s your definition of bad taste? Oh, dangerous waters, indeed. One person’s garish is another person’s idea of perfection. But I think trying too hard is bad taste.
Who’s your favorite art photographer? If it falls into art/fashion, I’d probably say Horst. But I love Bruce Weber. And a very good friend of mine, Tom Munro, has got a very strong eye.
Worst fashion shoot as a model? I think it was my second, because the first was for Ralph Lauren, and it was a dream. I was flown first class to California, out of a cold and gloomy England, put up in a hotel. Flowers arrived with a note from Ralph, saying, “Welcome to the family.” I did a shoot with Bruce Weber, dressed in cashmere, with golden retrievers. Then I got booked by an agency, and I was sent to a Winnebago in Florida for a 16-hour catalog job. That was a surprise.
What is one easy fix for people trying to make their homes more beautiful? Good lighting.
Designer or label you’re wearing most these days? I’m on the road a lot, and I wear a lot of Zara. If it’s a mistake, it’s an inexpensive mistake.
Favorite color? All the neutrals: beige, gray, army green…
What three things should every woman have in her wardrobe? A modern woman definitely needs to have a pair of good-fitting jeans. I think there’s something quite sexy about that, especially as we get older. Inevitably people say a little black dress, but I don’t wear an awful lot of those, so I’m not going to say it. A good piece of jewelry inevitably helps with any outfit. And I love the fact that we’re in the sneaker age and we can get away with wearing sneakers to a meeting. I’ll tend to wear quite a business-like suit with a pair of sneakers underneath.
Where do you find most inspiration? I find myself less inspired by cities nowadays. I find it hard to slow down enough to really be creative. So the English countryside. The Bahamian islands. Those get my creative juices flowing. Travel, hugely. And there are a number of women I’ve been very inspired by lately. I have two German business partners who are a major influence. It’s still incredibly difficult for women to be taken seriously in business, so the women who are CEOs of large corporations really impress me.
Favorite thing to design? I’ve been so lucky, being able to work in so many different areas. Interiors was obvious for a while, although it was actually very hard at first because of my father. I didn’t dare touch it. Then I created fragrance, and I loved that. I’m very detail-oriented, so really any kind of design challenge thrills me.
What trait do you most abhor? Snobbery.
Did you consciously set out to become a brand? Absolutely not. I have muddled my way through a very odd set of steps, and it’s strange when I’m in a meeting and hear someone refer to India Hicks, and I realize they’re not actually talking about me. They’re talking about a brand.
What’s the fascination with beetles? They come into our home in the Bahamas regularly. They’re lovely, gentle creatures. I have seen them as sort of my good luck charm. My life in the Bahamas is really very blessed, and they remind me of that. And I wanted something that would make my brand stand out a bit.
True or false: People who live on islands are all a little bit crazy. [Without hesitation] Yup! You’ve heard the expression “A sunny place for shady people…”
Thing you remember most about Charles and Diana’s wedding? It’s funny. Just the other day, I suddenly remembered how annoyed I was after the event. There was a huge ball given by the Queen. Charles and Diana had already left for their honeymoon, but all the visiting dignitaries and crowned heads of Europe were going to this ball, and it was to be my first big social event. I was 12 or 13. And I slept through it! What annoyed me was that not only did I miss it, but nobody bothered to wake me up! I was so angry at my mother.
Accomplishment you’re most proud of? The fact that I have a very close family. We’re a fairly dysfunctional, functioning family.
She could use a good night’s sleep. I know it doesn’t rhyme, but it’s true.