Phebe Wahl Phebe Wahl | November 14, 2019 | People Home Page
On Hilton: Corseted high-low ballgown, $9,690, by Oscar de la Renta, rental for $950 at Nova Octo, NYC. On children: Mûre babies’ dress in Milk White, from $440, at Bonpoint, NYC.
"The holidays are a huge deal in my family,” explains lifelong Hamptonite Nicky Hilton. “Growing up in the Hilton household, my mother put up a Christmas tree right after Halloween… and didn’t take it down till sometimes February,” she says with a laugh. “Her nickname is Mrs. Claus for a reason.”
Growing up in the Hilton home, holidays were always full-on. “She literally has massive storage units of Christmas decorations that she has collected,” explains Hilton of her mother. “Over the years she’s collected all sorts of Santas, gingerbread houses and nutcrackers—and just boxes and boxes of ornaments.” Many family traditions remain—like attending her parents’ annual Christmas Spectacular and Christmas lunch at Doubles. “My daughter was 2 last year, so I took her for the first time,” she says of her annual pilgrimage to the uptown club. This year, Hilton is highly anticipating the reopening of FAO Schwartz. “This was part of my childhood, and it was so devastating when it closed,” she shares. “It will never be the same as it was right on Fifth Avenue, but I will definitely be taking my girls in there this holiday.”
Houndstooth fringed coat, $3,490, at Oscar de la Renta, NYC; herringbone shirt dress, $5,290, by Oscar de la Renta at Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field; Eva ring set, $2,500, and Zoe fan ring, $2,200, both by Selin Kent at Love Adorned, Amagansett.
Hilton holidays were not all about parties, though, thanks to her parents’ commitment to philanthropy. “Every year, my mother would take us down to one of the local shelters in L.A. where we would serve the homeless Christmas lunch,” says Hilton, who has hosted an annual toy drive each year for the Good+Foundation in the same spirit. “Last year, we did a gingerbread house-making party and everyone came with an unwrapped gift collected for the Good+Foundation families. I think it instills in children at a young age that the holidays are really about giving back and helping others.”
Despite the passed-down holiday hoopla, the busy mother of two girls has downshifted the focus for her own interpretation of the season and keeps it all about the kids. “Not doing a Christmas card was probably the best decision I’ve made,” she explains. “I can remember growing up and all of the siblings and parents posing for the Christmas card—fighting, shouting and getting so irritable,” Hilton says of opting out of that annual stress-inducing event. “I think reminding your spouse it’s a time to reflect and be together and to not stress yourself out is important.”
Glossy Orchid one-shoulder dress, $3,850, by Johanna Ortiz, rental for $450 at Nova Octo, NYC; Annabelle pumps, $995, at Gianvito Rossi, NYC; Rubble earrings, $325, by Mounser at Kirna Zabête, East Hampton; silk pavé point ring, $220, by Oscar de la Renta at Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field; silk crystal flower ring, $220, at Oscar de la Renta, NYC.
The multitasking mama is used to juggling her tots with projects like her newly debuted shoe collection launched in collaboration with French Sole. “French Sole is an institution, and I grew up wearing their shoes,” she explains. “My collection pairs pretty jewel tones and velvet animal prints—perfect for the holidays,” Hilton says.
So how exactly does she maintain balance? “I think it’s a constant struggle for most people finding that balance between your personal and professional life,” Hilton says. “But ultimately, my family always will come first. Especially having young children, I don’t want to miss anything. There are so many milestones. They’re only that small for such a short window of time,” she says, noting that she makes a big effort to be present for all the special moments. “Since becoming a mother, I’m definitely more picky about the projects that I take on because they are time-consuming and they’re going to take me away from my family. So I really pick and choose wisely.”
Modern Day Muse sequin dress, $1,850, by Johanna Ortiz, rental for $350 at Nova Octo, NYC; silk pavé point ring, $220, by Oscar de la Renta at Neiman Marcus, Roosevelt Field; silk crystal flower ring, $220, at Oscar de la Renta, NYC.
Hilton shares that there is no better place than the Hamptons to recharge. “The fall and winter are my favorite times of the year in the Hamptons,” she says, citing local haunts like Shippy’s Pumpernickels where she can hide away without bumping into anyone. “When I’m out in the Hamptons, I’m not very social. I am very much a homebody in the winter. The fire is constantly roaring, and we are just hanging out at home.”
And although her approach to motherhood feels decidedly chill and centered, we still detect a tinge of that Hilton drive in play—especially when it comes to holiday decorating. “I definitely need to step up my ornament and decor game, you know; my mom’s got a lot more years on me because she’s literally been collecting this stuff for 40 years.” Like mother, like daughter.
Photography by: Tim Geaney | styled by Connor Childers | Shot on location at 66 Ninth Ave., Residence 6. Offered for sale exclusively by Jessica C. Campbell, Nest Seekers International, $26.960 million | Hair by Valerie Vanessa / @valerievanessa.hair | Makeup by Jacqueline Adevai | Models: Sadie Schnaufer for Teri B Talent & Model Management and Nava Farbman for Teri B Talent & Model Management | Holiday decor courtesy of Balsam Farms