Nicky Hilton was all of 16 years old when she appeared in Vanity Fair, shot by David LaChappelle, in a small dress and tall shoes, standing next to her older sister Paris under hot neon lights. The hotel heiresses would appear together like this — Paris vamping, Nicky smiling demurely — throughout much of the aughts, when they smashed the idea of the perfectly-mannered debutante into pieces. Married now to the blue-blood banker James Rothschild, and having just given birth to their daughter Lily Grace Victoria, Hilton's wild years are behind her, although she says she was never in fact so wild as we all took her to be in the first place. For the Royals portfolio, she is paired with a socialite of the old school, Susan Gutfreund, who was once the consummate Upper East Side hostess.
When was the first time in your life that you realized that your family was not just a regular family in the world?
Well, we lived in a hotel, the Waldorf Towers. So that was different than my classmates. [Laughs]
And did you have your own room in the Waldorf Towers?
Would you call for room service?
No, not really. That was sort of off limits, room service. We ran around everywhere. That ballroom had events and crazy things five nights a weeks, so we were always sneaking in, and checking it out, and spying on people. [Laughs] I'm a very calm, chill person. I feel like growing up, we had these personas, these wild girls. But we really weren't.
You were good girls. You went home and did your homework.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband at a wedding, the old-fashioned way.
Were you seated next to each other?
No, we didn’t meet till after the reception during the cocktail hour. I was standing there with my sister, talking to some boy who was chatting up Paris. And he walked over and introduced himself. And I was like, "He's cute, too." [Laughs] And then we didn’t see each other till after dinner. I was living in L.A. at the time, he was in London. So it was L.A./London long distance for about a year.
So you were flying back and forth?
We would meet halfway, in New York.
That's very romantic.
Yeah. And then once we decided we really wanted to make this work, we both moved to New York.
What was your wedding like?
My wedding was beautiful.
What was getting the Valentino [gown] like? That dress was stunning.
The dress was probably my favorite parts of the whole thing. Just flying to Paris for the fittings at their beautiful atelier. It was just so glamorous. We started in New York with sketches. I think we ended up with five or six [fittings]. I had to do my last one a few days before in Paris, and they were doing their couture show in Rome, so it was a bit crazy.
Why did you pick Valentino?
I think Valentino is so elegant, so timeless. I think a lot of brides today try and go a little too fashion-y or avant-garde. And I really just wanted timeless, classic, beautiful.
Was there a thought of wearing your mother's wedding dress?
No. But I really hope my future daughter wears my wedding dress. My husband says she's definitely wearing that dress. I'm not paying for a dress. [Laughs]
It was a gorgeous dress, but also very demure.Yes, very covered up — the arms, the neck. It was beautiful.
Did you have fun at your own wedding? People often say they don’t even remember their weddings.
I did. I had a really nice time at my wedding. I wish I got to spend a little more time with my friends. They flew from so far away, and you're just being pulled in every direction. I think I had maybe five, six sips of a cocktail that night. You're just on such a high, and you're just being pulled in every direction. But it was amazing.