(All photos: Lieba Nesis)
The book signing for "Island Style," India Hicks latest book was hosted by Roberta Freymann at her store on 176 Duane Street. Hicks, is a former fashion model and 678th in line to the British throne. She is the second cousin to Prince Charles, and became well known for her role as a bridesmaid to Lady Diana. While her career as a model was noteworthy in the 80's and 90's appearing in ads for Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Calvin Klein, it is her second and third act as a developer and decorator of houses in the Caribbean and a bestseller on the Home Shopping Network for her home collection that have kept her prominent in the public eye. Moreover, this is the third book she has written about her life on Harbour Island, featuring photographs, essays and a foreword by none other than Charles himself. If that is not intimidating enough, her statuesque elegance has been unmarred by her production of five beautiful children.
Entering the "Roberta Roller Rabbit" store which was filled with handcrafted clothing, furniture and prints from India the first person I spotted was Hicks, a beautiful amazon with a presence that could fill ten rooms. As dozens waited for her to sign their books she posed for pictures with a poise worthy of a royal. Roberta Freymann, who is herself an accomplished designer owning 13 clothing stores, recalled how India would arrive at her walk-up apartment building to purchase clothing many years ago and how their friendship has blossomed over the years.
|Roberta Freymann and Lana Ogilvie|
Roberta was honored to host the event and was wearing her own designs this evening, although she admitted Dries Van Noten is her favorite designer. Lana Ogilvie, a well-known model who has retained her good looks, has also known Hicks for decades, recounting their modeling days as filled with excitement with visits to exotic locales and encounters with eclectic individuals. However, Ogilvie, lamented the cliquishness and immaturity of the fashion industry and noted that when she was modeling the Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated models were looked down upon whereas now they are sought after due to their large social media following.
|Rose Hartman, India Hicks and Gigi Ganatra|
This evening was a nod to those who have maintained enduring relevance in the fickle fashion industry, with Rose Hartman making a guest appearance as well as fashion veteran Sam Shahid. Shahid, is revered in the industry starting off in 1981 as the creative director at Calvin Klein where he catapulted Klein to iconic status due to the labels sexy advertisements and alluring image. After meeting Hicks through her modeling for Klein he then became creative director at Banana Republic, where he again used Hicks to model for the company and has been the artistic director for all of Hicks' books, Kelly Klein's bestsellers, Fern Mallis's recent compilation, and an upcoming book on Diana Vreeland. Shahid and Hicks collaborated on this book for a year and he is a man as excited by his job 35 years later as he was when he began as a novice.
|Sam Shahid and India Hicks|
Furthermore, Shahid started an advertising agency in 1993 that boasts clients including Versace, Valentino and Abercrombie and Fitch. Shahid has worked with Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber and admires their ability to tell a story with their photographs. Shahid recalled his earlier years in the fashion industry with a fondness for its conceptualism as opposed to its current state where it is predominantly product and celebrity driven with the only goal being to sell the item. He also recalled how Prada's creativity has diminished due to its desire for bottom line success. Fortunately, according to Shahid, the Europeans are still maintaining their originality and therefore, he enjoys working with other cultures. Shahid's low key manner, arriving in sneakers and a blazer without a hint of arrogance, belies his stature in the fashion industry with one guest asking me, "do you understand how important that man is?"
|Available at Barnes & Noble|
At the conclusion of the evening I had the opportunity to speak with the star of the evening, India Hicks. She indicated that she wrote every word in the book, a highly difficult feat due to her "severe dyslexia." For Hicks the most gratifying part of being an author was her realization of how lucky she is and how quickly time goes by with these books allowing her to document her life akin to a family photo album. When she recounted being a bridesmaid at the wedding of the century she said it seemed like an intimate family affair but now realizes being driven in a gold carriage to a wedding is "highly unusual."' The aspect of Princess Diana that sticks out in her mind most was her love of the Tea Rose fragrance and her "very bossy" nature. Hicks is herself coming out with an English Rose fragrance in an ode to Diana and on that note she exited the store with a grace and beauty reminiscent of old time Hollywood mixed with a bit of English irreverence.
- Lieba Nesis