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Nicole Richie On Her Favorite Vintage Stores, Her Rock 'n' Roll Design Inspiration and How That Famous Haircut Came To Be

Over the past decade, Nicole Richie has transformed from Paris Hilton's sharp-tongued sidekick on The Simple Life to a full-fledged fashion icon in her own right. In addition to designing two successful collections of her own—ready-to-wear label Winter Kate and accessories brand House of Harlow 1960—Nicole's also a mentor on the NBC reality series Fashion Star (which returns for a second season on March 8) and a busy mom (to daughter Harlow and son Sparrow).

In addition to her success in the style world, Nicole's also got one of the best heads of hair in the biz—when she chopped off her party-girl waves into an Old Hollywood-esque bob framed by sideswept bangs in the mid-aughts, girls across the country rushed to copy the cut themselves. It seems appropriate, then, that the star has teamed up with haircare brand Suave to launch its website's Shine Suite, where she'll share some of her own beauty tips and tricks with her fans. We caught up with the style and beauty mogul to chat about her favorite vintage haunts, designer hand-me-downs and, of course, how her much-copied hairstyle happened in the first place.

You're famously a fan of late '60s and early '70s style, and I know you have an awesome vintage collection at home. Where are some of your favorite places to shop for past-era pieces?

In Los Angeles, you can't beat Resurrection and Decades. But we travel a lot as a family, and I'm always keeping my eyes open for places to shop—whether it's a little kiosk or a fancy vintage store. I'm always up for a little digging.

I've heard that your mom passed down some amazing pieces to you, too. Which of her hand-me-downs are your favorites?

She kept all of her old Alaia skirts, which is pretty amazing, because now I don't have to buy my own ones!

You design two primary collections of your own—House of Harlow 1960, which has been up and running for about five years now, and Winter Kate, which launched in 2010. Is your inspiration-gathering process the same for both?

Yes. It was always very important to me that both collections be very cohesive. The look of both lines is very similar, they're clearly from the same family—the only real difference is that House of Harlow is accessories and Winter Kate is clothing. For me, it always starts with music. I'm a big lover of classic rock, and always get inspired by that era of music. It's not really about specific singers or acts—more about getting into that zone, appreciating the aesthetic of that period.

What's the one piece you've designed that you're most proud of?

I designed a necklace for Mother's Day last year [for House of Harlow] that benefited Baby2Baby, one of my favorite charities that helps mothers in need. As far as being proud of something goes, I really love designing and giving back at the same time.

You've collaborated with both Macy's and QVC on lower-priced collections, too. Would you consider doing more of these types of project in the future—say, with H&M or Target?

Yes—absolutely. I actually met the team at Macy's through Fashion Star, so it's funny how these projects overlap sometimes.

Speaking of your reality series, how have you channeled your design experience into your role on the show?

I've always set out to be a mentor rather than a judge. It's my job to help hold the contestants' hands as they work, to guide them. But at the end of the day, what I always tell them is to listen to the feedback from the buyers, since that's what's most important.

Finally, your "lob" (long bob) haircut is a huge element of your signature look, and you've kept it the same way for several years now. Why'd you decide to cut it this way in the first place, and was it something you carefully planned in advance? Cutting your hair short can be scary...

What's so funny is that it wasn't something I thought about at all beforehand. I've had the same hairstylist (Andy LeCompte) for years, and we're best friends too. So the change really just came out of us hanging out at the house, experimenting and playing around with the cut.

Photo courtesy of Suave.

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