Island Life by Michaela Cordes | 25th March, 2014 | Personalities
Her mother is the famous British aristocrat Lady Pamela Hicks, her father was the interior designer David Nightingale Hicks. At 13, India Hicks had a call from her godfather, Prince Charles, asking her to be a bridesmaid at his wedding to Lady Diana. Sometimes it’s extremes like these that kindle a longing for a completely different life. The free-spirited designer on her very colorful everyday life on a tiny island in the Bahamas.
I remember the first time I was taken over to Harbour Island. I was four years old, the air was stuffy and I wanted to be on the beach. It was only with the promise of ice cream at the end of the drive that I would even consider getting in the car. Now, this tiny island, with a population of only 1500 locals, has been my permanent home for the past 18 years!
How did this come about? David, my better half, had been an old friend of my sister’s who came on holiday with us to the Bahamas. One year he discovered Harbour Island. He saw an opportunity to live a life that was completely different to the one he had in England. We gave up everything in England to start a new life on an island in the middle of nowhere.
This feeling of wanting to live a slightly unusual life is something we both share. Here I am free. I am not someone’s god-daughter or daughter. I can simply be myself. As a young girl I spent many years working as a model. I came to it completely by chance, because what I actually wanted to do was study photography. Instead, I started modeling (editor’s note: Emilio Pucci discovered her and India Hicks became his model for catsuits). It was a wonderful time, because it took me around the world; I met extraordinary groups of creative people who I would never otherwise have met. When we moved to the tropics I felt the nature around me. My island life influenced me. I started drawing and sketching again. This resulted in my first collaboration with Crabtree & Evelyn, a perfume called “Island Life.” I wrote a coffee-table book inspired by my life here.
“When it gets dark and the fireflies light up the path, that’s when I realize what an amazing life I live!” India Hicks
Now, at this point in my life, I find I am looking back as much as I am looking forward. I am recognizing the influence that my father, who was a great designer, had on me. And also that being British is still very much a part of my life (laughs). It strikes me most when we celebrate Christmas on the island. Here, in the tropics, we always have a Christmas tree, a roast turkey and we stick to all the traditional customs. My five children, Felix (16), Amory (14), Conrad (10), Domino (6) and our foster son Wesley, all grew up here but they weren’t born here. There is no hospital on Harbour Island, not even a regular doctor. I gave birth to all of my four children in Miami, flying over at the last moment and moving my life over there, with my books and dogs and cats. It’s mad, we really live a life like a traveling gypsy circus. I simply love having a large family. It was a terrible tragedy when Welsey’s mother died of breast cancer. I am grateful for having Wesley in our lives and we feel very blessed to have him as part of our family. For David and me it is important to bring our children up as global personalities. My children have grown up with an unusual mix and I sometimes ask myself how they feel on the inside. Children who speak with that funny British accent even though they’re at home on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.
This sense of free-spiritedness that I felt inside me, a curiosity for a completely different life, I think that came from my grandmother on my mother’s side. She was an exceptional person and as a young woman often travelled to China and Japan before any other woman of her generation did. She was very intrepid, and my mother always said she slept with an atlas under her pillow. I simply couldn’t imagine living in a city anymore. Perhaps out in the countryside somewhere in England. Or up in the north of Scotland. But David, on the other hand, could never live there. My better half needs the warmth of the tropics. For me it is important to be surrounded by Mother Nature. Although I do love the city and am always excited to go and visit and dash around in 5th gear mode, getting thousands of things done in a single day – that is very much my personality. Even if it’s difficult to imagine, I am just as technically plugged in here on Harbour Island as everybody else in a big city. These sensational developments like social media – without them I would never be able to supervise all my projects. The other night I was training for a bike ride we organize to raise breast cancer awareness and the fireflies were the only lights guiding my way. Those are the moments I know why I live here. And it’s fantastic – you can even see me enjoying the moment (#Indiahicksstyle).
“The island is small. Only 1500 locals live here. If the boat doesn’t arrive, there will be no milk that day.” India Hicks
A typical day here? Well, for me it starts really early in the morning. I always seem to get up first, usually at around 6:30 am. Then I wake Domino and we have breakfast together. We jump in the golf cart and I drive her to school, which is fun; the only traffic we encounter on our way are the chickens flapping across the road as we pass. At school Domino sits outside, under the open sky on a wooden bench, with a Bahamian friend on one side and a German girl on the other. I carry on to my small office where I supervise my HSN Home Shopping bedding collection and my jewelry collection. When that’s done, I pop into the small shop I run on the island, and spend a part of the day seeing what is happening there. This is a nice creative contrast to just sitting at the office in front of the computer all day. In the afternoon or early evening, when Domino is back home again and is busy with her homework, I grab all our dogs, most of which have come to us as strays over the years, and take them down to the beach for a good run. For me, this is always the best end to a perfect day. MC