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Woman Of Substance :: Kathy Hilton

Kathy Hilton’s public persona precedes her. She is undeniably a woman of many trades, sitting atop a mountain of successes and decades of gracefully bearing a very famous last name—yet she is humble, realistic and oozing with passion as she speaks about her newest endeavor, the Kathy Hilton Collection.

Hilton created the ready-to-wear special occasion dress collection for women who want to look beautiful and en vogue on every occasion of their lives, from cocktail parties to black-tie galas. Hilton has overseen the entire process, resulting in a line of stunning dresses fit for any occasion.

“It is a beautiful line of ready-to-wear dresses,” Hilton said. “They really are very romantic, very feminine, and just beautiful. They don’t have like everything going on, but rather a yin and a yang to them.”

Launching in Spring 2012, each dress in the Kathy Hilton Collection reflects said balance, the pieces showcasing unexpected juxtapositions of leather and lace, full-bodied tulle with form fitting tops.

“I went to the [New York] Coterie—where you go and meet with specialty stores from all over the world—and I was so excited when I heard that Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom bought the line,” said Hilton.

The Kathy Hilton Collection is designed and marketed as a collaboration with Mon Cheri and legendary Mon Cheri CEO Stephen Lang. The design effort at Kathy Hilton Collection is rounded out with a team of veteran designers and marketing professionals.

 As Hilton speaks about the dresses and creating her line, she comes to life. It becomes clear that this entire process was very much a labor of love.

While Hilton is a member of a family that is one of the most famous hotelier brands in the world, she keeps her famous family grounded and down to earth.

“I think being appreciative of one another and not taking each other for granted works best and growing up together,” she said of the best advice she gave her four children–Paris, Nicky, Barron and Conrad. “My husband started his business in New York and we didn’t have any family there. He worked for four years for an investment banking company and we had to row our own boat. We didn’t have what people think we would have and we had to work hard together.”

And when it comes to hard work, it seems her kids have taken this advice to heart. They can count philanthropy, modeling, reality TV, acting, singing and fashion design among their many accomplishments. And Hilton wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Everybody has to get out there; not everything is on a silver plate,” she said.

Hilton has taken her own advice, now sitting at the helm of her new fashion empire. Her inspiration for creating the line is two-fold: she recognized a hole in the dress market and she saw the chance to materialize her longtime passion for making clothes. Having owned a boutique in Beverly Hills, Hilton has a long history in the apparel industry. She began her career as a designer well before that—in fact, it started out as a childhood hobby.

“My mother and I used to make doll clothes,” Hilton said. “I’m a doll collector and still have my collection. [Creating a dress line] is a dream. So when I was approached it was like ‘this is the most exciting thing in the world.’”

The Kathy Hilton Collection was born out of Hilton’s own observations. As she was shopping for dresses to bring on a family vacation, Hilton felt that the non-couture market was lacking beautiful but reasonably priced pieces. “When you go into a department store, not into the couture department, there’s just nothing,” she said. “I thought, ‘There is definitely a market for this.’” Turns out, she was right.

Perhaps what is most refreshing about the collection is that Hilton–a connoisseur of couture herself–chose to make an attainable and affordable line.

“I’ve been blessed and able to travel the world, to see and wear many different designer dresses,” Hilton said. “But then I started to think that especially with the economy, people are just not in the mood and you don’t have to go out and spend thousands of dollars [to] look nice. I really felt that there was a real niche for beautiful cocktail dresses that wouldn’t break the bank.” The collection’s cocktail dresses retail from $350-$495.

As Hilton speaks about the dresses and creating her line, she comes to life. It becomes clear that this entire process was very much a labor of love.

“I wanted to make something beautiful that women all over the world can wear,” she said. “Starting with my nieces—I have dresses in the line that reflect my nieces and their friends, dresses for my daughters, and for women my age and older.”

As far as how she would describe her collection, the styles are classic and timeless – much like Hilton herself.

“The thing about the collection really is that now is the time to buy something timeless, and you can wear these dresses even after season,” she said. “They’re investment pieces because of their versatility.”

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014