Each month my friend Cindy and I interview a different interesting and amazing woman. This month I’d like to welcome you to Ageless Style and the World of India Hicks.
When I think of India Hicks the words history, tradition, family, and design are just a few that come to mind followed by style, author, service to others, and entrepreneur. The life India Hicks and her family have built on Harbour Island in the Bahamas is centered around Hibiscus Hill, their elegant yet laid-back home. The house is a mix of timeless British colonial, and the rich island culture of bright gelato colors, tropical flora and fauna, and pink sandy beaches. Add five children, several beloved dogs and cats, some lovebirds, a tortoise, and a passion for entertaining, and you’ve just begun to imagine the world of India Hicks.
If you think it sounds like paradise, you might be right.
India Hicks’s gracious home is filled with family oil portraits, books stacked on tables and floors, shelves of straw boater hats, and collections of disparate objects like shells, a wooden toy car, and her grandmother’s pigskin writing case. The tables and fireplace mantles are adorned with India’s traditional palm-frond displays in tall glass containers and little bud vases filled with greenery and blooms.
There are baskets full of smooth, brown lucky nuts, as well as tiny silver boxes, and a white porcelain bowl of red, English cricket balls. No one curates charm and tradition better than India Hicks, and if you haven’t devoured one of her five beautiful design books filled with photographs and stories, you must give yourself the gift of at least one or two.
India comes from a fascinating dynasty. She is the third child of the iconic David Hicks, Britain’s foremost interior designer of the ’60s and ’70s, and Lady Pamela Mountbatten Hicks, a bridesmaid at Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding and later, the queen’s Lady-in-Waiting.
India’s mother, Lady Pamela Mountbatten Hicks, far right, bridesmaid at Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding.
India’s grandfather was the great-grandson of Queen Victoria. He was the first Earl Mountbatten of Burma and was appointed the Supreme Commander in Southeast Asia during World War II. As the last Viceroy of India, he oversaw India’s transition to self-rule. Her grandmother’s godfather was King Edward VII, and India’s godfather is King Charles III, the current reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, who ascended the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022.
India, on the right, has modeled for Ralph Lauren, Tod’s, and J. Crew among others.
India Hicks doesn’t give many interviews. I’m honored she sat down to talk with me.
BRENDA: You have such a fabulous style. I read that you were a self-described “tomboy,” but somewhere along the line that changed.
INDIA: Obviously, you do mature into a different phase. I still wouldn’t describe myself as girly or frilly. My style is pretty straightforward in the way that I dress and the way I live.
BRENDA: As a 12-year-old girl, you were a bridesmaid in the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. You probably weren’t thrilled at being asked to wear such a frilly dress.
India, back row, third from the left.
INDIA: In hindsight, the 1980s was a moment in fashion that was all about opulence and over-the-top statements, and I think Diana, if she were alive today and was going to think about her wedding dress, might have chosen differently, but it was very befitting of that time and that era. Vast amounts of silk taffeta were the trend, but yes, for me, it was a little out of the ordinary, but it was an extraordinary privilege to have been a part of that wedding.
BRENDA: What became of your dress?
INDIA: It’s traveled a lot in exhibitions and has been on display at the Broadlands Museum. Now it hangs in my daughter’s bedroom in England in a Perspex box, and what’s interesting is that next to it hangs my mother’s bridesmaid dress she wore to the Queen’s wedding.
BRENDA: What a magnificent history. Your style is tailored. Very classic and chic. What are some ways a woman can up her fashion game and look pulled together without spending a lot of money?
INDIA: I think having a neutral palette as the foundation helps hugely, and you can build from there. I travel a great deal and so I pack very carefully because I don’t want to be traveling with vast trunks of clothes so I narrow it down. In the narrowing down, in that final edit, I find that I do tend to go to a more neutral palette and that helps. I think for me, particularly, it suits the way that I live and work. And I add in a shock of color…I think it depends on the age, but at my age, I’m finding being slightly pared back gives more of an elegance to a woman’s wardrobe.
BRENDA: I agree. I’m a minimalist and have always worn neutral colors. I buy great pieces so I have a lot of things I bought years ago I can wear with pieces I buy now because they are all neutral colors.
INDIA: Absolutely. I think we should be telling ourselves about thinking in a more sustainable way and thinking about slow fashion instead of fast fashion. Often if I’m investing in a piece that will perhaps stretch my budget, I will think “Will my daughter inherit this and will she also benefit from this?” But I do think sustainably as much as I possibly can. I have a shop here on Harbour Island called the Sugar Mill, and we try to be very conscientious for the shop.
India Hicks wearing a dress from the Melides collection from Hester Bly sold at India’s store, the Sugar Mill on Harbour Island.
BRENDA: Over the weekend, I splurged on a Max Mara sequined sweater, so I’m having a battle in my head about whether I’ll wear this piece enough to get a good cost per wear. I don’t know. We’ll see what I do about it. (Since this interview, I returned the sweater.)
INDIA: I have to say I love sequins, and there’s a time and a place for them, but they do bring quite a lot of joy and fun for sure.
India’s boots for Penelope Chilvers.
BRENDA: You’ve gone from doing your own lifestyle brand, the India Hicks Collection, to collaborating with other designers like Heirlooms Linens and those fabulous boots you’ve done with Penelope Chilvers. I left you a comment on Instagram about the Grove boots. I said, “As a Texas girl, I’d be proud to wear those boots!”
INDIA: I did see your comment, and I loved it. I’m very grateful for that because I thought it was a real compliment.
BRENDA: The boots are beautiful. They’re olive suede, and is there a leopard print lining?
INDIA: That’s right. I always like to have something that’s a bit of a surprise that I design so it’s not the obvious.
India and her 94-year-old mother, Lady Pamela Mountbatten Hicks.
BRENDA: And Heirlooms Linens, tell me about those. They’re gorgeous.
INDIA: I just launched those with a British company, and they’re very remarkable in the fact that they hold not one but two royal warrants (a mark of recognition to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services to the Royal Household.) which is quite impressive. It’s been a wonderful journey with them. They manufacture everything in-house, in their UK, West Sussex space, and they use the finest Italian woven fabrics and embroidery machines. When I went to visit them, I was very impressed by the embroidery.
They’d done a beautiful shell cushion. It’s white on white, very subtle, and I think it would work in a New York apartment as well as it would in the Bahamas. And if you turn the cushion over, you’ll find there’s a little tiny ant embroidered on the back. Kind of a fun little nod to something a bit unexpected.
BRENDA: I saw that. I love it! Tell me about your smart-looking picture frames.
INDIA: Again, another British company, Addison Ross, and what I really like about their point of difference is they do this picture frame “Print and Fit” process. We all have these crazy busy lives, and if we’re celebrating someone’s wedding, or we want a special gift, or it’s coming up for Christmas, the idea of a photograph frame is perfect. Everyone wants a memory, but actually identifying the image and then getting it printed and put in a frame… Nobody can be bothered to do that. So often we’re just gifting an empty frame. What Print and Fit offers is brilliant…You choose the frame and just send them the image, and they will do everything else for you, including the packaging and the sending of the frame.
BRENDA: How can you resist that? One-stop shopping, and they’re beautiful. The tweeds and the velvets on the frames make me think about the leopard print lining in your boots. It’s unexpected.
BRENDA: You’re also involved with two important humanitarian efforts: the Prince’s Trust and the Global Empowerment Mission (GEM). Up close and personal, you’ve seen the horrifying devastation the Russians have inflicted during their war against Ukraine. Things you’ll never forget. I admire you for the work you’re doing with them.
India, this week in Ukraine, with Felix, a war orphan who now lives in a foster home. “He is a small bubble of joy for a moment.”
INDIA: Thank you. That’s kind. I was very driven by the fact that I was serving on their board, and I was frustrated I couldn’t do more than just be a board member. When I was sure the team was going to go into Ukraine, I had a long conversation with the founder, Michael Capponi, who has an extraordinary character and a very dynamic personality. He encouraged me to go out with them and join the team out there and what I found was that in Ukraine, on the ground, I was able to match donors to causes.
Photographs from India’s current trip to Ukraine. She spent days giving boxes of food and supplies off the back of trucks, along with colorful beanies and soccer balls.
I could do a live video chat with a donor in America, saying, “Meet Anna whose house has been bombed by a missile, and she now has nowhere to go.” And then the donor could send the funds and support Anna in the rebuilding of her home. I’m going again next week to Ukraine…The world has so many natural disasters and wars. I worry that Ukraine has been somewhat forgotten. Also, there’s a lot of war fatigue. People feel they have been burnt out by being asked for money or lending their support, but of course for those in Ukraine, still fighting, they need eyes on their war. They need people to remember that this continues. And for me, it particularly feels personal in the fact that this is in Europe essentially. This is on our doorstep.
BRENDA: I know.
India’s son, Conrad Flint Wood, with an elderly woman in Ukraine who is now forced to live underground.
INDIA: If we let Putin win this, then we are in a different territory altogether. So I think we need to come together as much as we can and continue those efforts to help them and help keep the focus there. It’s important to mention Global Empowerment Mission is a relief agency, and they help all those in need in times of crisis. They are active in 54 countries, and they are active in both Gaza and Israel…But it is important to remember that as a humanitarian organization, our first call is humanitarian aid, and in no way is there ever any political stand in what Global Empowerment Mission does.
BRENDA: Stay safe next week, India, and thank you for your time.
INDIA: Thank you so much for thinking of me. Take care.
Thanks for reading Ageless Style and the World of India Hicks. Please leave me and India a comment, and then visit Cindy’s site to see who she’s interviewing this month.