India Hicks lives the sort of life most would class the stuff of dreams. Based in Harbour Island, The Bahamas with her partner David Flint Wood and their five children, the model turned designer, businesswoman and author has become synonymous with a way of living that embodies the very definition of barefoot chic. Born in Britain, her father was the acclaimed interior designer David Hicks and her mother is Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter the of The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy in India. She grew up in her parents’ fabulously designed house in rural England, before ignoring her father’s pleas for her to marry an eminently sensible English Duke for a course in photography. It wasn’t long before she found herself on the other side of the camera modeling for the likes of Ralph Lauren, and then on Harbour Island, where she met David and set up a new life in paradise.
Nineteen years later, Hicks still calls Harbour Island home. She has written several books that pay homage to island life, opening a window onto the paradise that she has carefully crafted over the years. The latest, Island Style, is out this month and showcases her inimitable approach to decorating. In it’s pages, her home, Hibiscus Hill, stands testament to her unique approach – a blend, as she puts it, of her traditional British past and rich Caribbean present with her own eccentricities thrown in.
Whilst her first fashion moment may have been clad in frills as a bridesmaid to Prince Charles and Lady Diana, these days she is known for a much more laid back approach, one that seems as effortless as it is glamorous. To that end, she has just launched her own brand featuring fragrances, accessories and jewelry. Sold both through her website indiahicks.com and a direct selling network of Style Ambassadors, she is on a mission not only to deliver a slice of island style to the world, but also to empower women with the tools to earn money from their own homes by joining her. “I want to say to these women ‘Do it on your own terms, and do it your own way,” she explains. It is a mantra she more than lives up to herself. Here, she answers our questions.
What’s in your make-up bag?
I never used to have one until quite recently, it never occurred to me. Having been a model for so many years, everyone else did my make up so I never had to carry some. Now, however, most essentially I carry red eye drops because I’m always on a plane.
Do you have a beauty secret?
I think we inherit a great deal genetically. My mother has incredible skin and has never done anything to it, so I’m rather hoping I’ll inherit a little bit of that. I tend to focus much more on the exercise part of life. I’m pretty religious about making sure that I am fit and healthy rather than relying on a beauty secret.
What would be your desert island essentials?
Marmite, for so many reasons. Even the fabulous design of the pot would keep one going on a rainy day.
What do you wear on a fat day?
For me, it’s not so much a fat day as an utterly exhausted day. This year I’ve been setting up a business and there have been days when I just couldn’t even think about what I was going to wear. Then I turn to a pair of jeans and a cowboy shirt.
How would your female friends describe your style?
It depends who you ask. I have some very high fashion friends who would probably describe me as rather unadventurous, and then are others who would say it’s either fairly tomboy or the other extreme. There’s not much in the middle.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
My grandmother’s white fur stole with its satin lining and her coat of arms embroidered on the inside. I don’t really dare to wear it, but I do wonder at all the adventures it must have had when she wore it regularly.
Is there anything in your wardrobe you should get rid of but can’t?
My Birkenstocks. Both my 7 year old daughter Domino and David are horrified by them. David would like me to dress like Grace Kelly, and I don’t think she would have a pair in her wardrobe.
What do you never leave home without?
My India Hicks English Rose roller ball. It’s travel sized and great because I spend too much time in stinky airports, and I live in the tropics. Plus, it reminds me of where I’ve come from rather than of where I’m going.
Hot date night, what do you wear?
Heels or bare feet – nothing in between. And good underwear. Elle Macpherson is a mate, and she always said good underwear is essential, especially as you creep into middle age. You must never forget it.
When home alone, what do you wear?
Yoga pants, a sports bra and a sports top.
What do you wear to bed?
David’s boxer shorts.
You’re the fashion police for a day, what do you ban?
High-heeled flip-flops. I can’t bear them. And also men who wear singlets on airplanes. I mean, for God’s sake.
Have you ever worn anything you now regret?
Who hasn’t! Really so much, and the alarming part about this is that it wasn’t even so long ago. I look back to last year and think what was I wearing! I did once wear high heeled over the knee leather boots with a leather mini skirt – I mean, what was I thinking.
How high is too high a heel?
If you’re stumbling around ungraciously, then they’re too high.
How old is too old for jeans?
Never too old. In fact, the older the better.
If you could live in any other time for its fashion, when would you choose?
I would choose the 1700s, but I would have to be Anne Bonny the pirate, who was an extraordinary character and never disguised herself as a woman pirate. Think of those leather boots, big wide buckled belts, lacy shirts and a sword at your side, plus the confidence to steal someone else’s ship.
What is your most recent purchase?
A Filson roller bag. It is canvas with leather straps and it had better stand the test of time.
Can you judge a book by its cover?
I pick up a beauty product because of packaging, I will buy a car because of the way it looks from the outside not the engine, so I am deeply shallow!
What are your bad habits?
Chocolate for breakfast. And for the rest, I think you should be asking my other half. He’d have a very long list.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
My kids, and flying my kids back and forth across the Atlantic and home. One of the prices we pay for living in paradise is that our children have to be educated overseas, but I can’t bear the separation so there is a great deal of travel involved.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s not so much that I’ve been given advice, it’s that my parents have been an influence on me. My father was a very tricky character, very opinionated, but he was very individual and he lived life differently, as did my mother. She didn’t do what was expected of her. They both lived very individual lives, and for me that has been very important. The one thing I would say to my children is, ‘be individual.’
What’s your idea of a great holiday?
All my kids together, and everybody being content. I have an 18 year old down to a 7 year old, so it’s hard to find somewhere we are all happy to be.
What are you most proud of?
That I’ve kept my sanity being a mother of four boys and one tomboy. And, though one never wants to voodoo it, that David and I have somehow managed to make island life work for our family and us.
What are you least proud of?
The fact that I don’t read enough. I still don’t read the newspapers every day; I cheat and get David to give me a weekly synopsis of what’s going on in the world. I should take more control of that.
Who or what would you like to be reincarnated as in your next life?
My dachshund, Banger. Who wouldn’t want to be a big fat dachshund living in the Bahamas?
If you could meet someone from history who would it be?
Tough, but my grandmother Edwina Mountbatten would be very interesting. She died in 1959 and she certainly was an individual. She definitely had a varied life.
Yes or no to a nip and a tuck?
Oh my God, yes! But again it depends who you are and what you need and how much. Moderation!!
Do you have a favorite KOTUR bag?
The James studded clutch is pretty sensational.
On a scale of one-to-ten, how good looking are you?
Jesus Christ! This morning probably about a three and half! With a lot of help, I could maybe get to a seven!
How would you like to be remembered?
Photo Credit: Marzena Kosicka