India Hicks gives Crabtree & Evelyn a taste of Island Living, a bodycare and home collection that debuts this month.
An interior past
As the daughter of famed interior designer David Hicks, with her own background in art and photography, Hicks has a confident eye. A tour of her home reveals an elegant but somewhat cheeky aesthetic, evident in the dynamic arrangement of photos in the dining room ("I move the photos around all the time, depending on how well I'm getting along with the various people in them"), the lacquer-red walls in her upstairs study (a nod to her father's signature colour) and even her choice of canopy bed, named the Lord Mountbatten Tester Bed. ("I pestered the manufacturer to give me that bed so often that he finally did just to get rid of me.")
Hicks' one concern is that the Island Living line looks so striking that people might forget how natural it is. "We've taken out all the bad things, such as parabens, mineral oil and synthetic dyes, and added mango butter and other indigenous ingredients," she says. "Everything is top quality. In the home line, for example, I wanted a 100-hour, three-wick scented candle because the power goes off a lot in the Bahamas and candles are part of the landscape. Some of the best candles have about 10-percent perfume concentration, and that's what we've included in this one. It may seem like a picky thing, but I didn't want rounded edges. I insisted on heavy glass and straight edges because they're more elegant. I knew I wanted a simple-looking line that was reflective of me and the way I live."
Responsible and "green" living
For Hicks, Island Living also means "responsible living" -- respecting the environment is an intrinsic part of the line. "Graydon Carter [editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair] was telling me that his 'Green Issue' last May was the most popular one ever," says Hicks. "I was so moved by the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth, that I said, 'Right, no more air conditioning.' There's a family here who has six Hummers in the driveway. I mean, what are they thinking?" Island Living contains no secondary packaging. The candles come in rattan cases that can be used as decorative storage. And the Casuarina Fragrance Diffuser box is modelled after her great-grandfather's duelling case. As for the Spider Lily Body Collection, Hicks' godfather, HRH The Prince of Wales, has given it his royal warrant. "When I started working with Crabtree & Evelyn, I wrote to him and said, 'I'm very proud to work for a company that you recognize,'" she says. In addition, Hicks is donating 10 percent of her profits from Island Living to supporting the attendance of Bahamian children at the local school.
As we lunch on conch fritters at a nearby restaurant, a strong wind is blowing over the pink-sand beach and rain clouds are swelling overhead. The guests on the balcony are hastily making their way inside. Hicks watches the staff lock down the bright blue shutters. "I had fun when I was modelling, but I didn't take fashion all that seriously," she says. "I kept asking myself, 'What am I doing here?' Sometimes I felt so lost. I met David and he told me 'No animals, no children.' Now we've made a home on the island, and we have three sons [Felix, Amory and Conrad], two dogs [Barrel, her "firstborn," and Olympia], a cat [Batman] and a parrot [Jenga]."
Later in the afternoon, the sun is out again and the tide is low as Hicks takes her customary run along the beach before picking the boys up from school and helping them with their school work. ("Homework is David's job, but he's away in Sri Lanka at the moment," she says.) We pass each other on the beach, Olympia maniacally running in and out of the waves and Barrel staying close to his mistress. Without breaking her stride, Hicks opens her arms, taking in the sky, the sea and the pink sand, and says, "This is what Island Living is all about -- just this."