November 20, 2014 02:00 PM

Nicole Richie recalls her fashionista training as a kid: Sitting in mom Brenda Harvey Richie’s dressing room, watching her get her hair and makeup done, before putting on one of her many “dope ’80s goliath dresses.”

“I always thought to myself, ‘That’s what I want to look like when I get older,'” she told PEOPLE at the launch of her House of Harlow 1960 home fragrance collection exclusively for GILT Tuesday night in Los Angeles joined by many close friends, her husband Joel Madden, 35, and her younger sis, Sofia.

“We have very different styles,” says Richie, 33, comparing her style to her mother’s 1980s look. “She was much more of a lady than I ever will be, but she was my inspiration to really step into this world.”

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

There was a hint of her mom’s ’80s flair in Richie’s Marchesa get-up featuring a black lace top and a golden silk wrapped skirt, which displayed a thigh-high slit. To add some height to her small frame, Richie slipped on some sleek black Louboutin pumps, and pinned up her chic midnight blue locks.

Splitting her time between California and New York, Richie finds ways to combine her season favorites accordingly.

“I love even throwing on a turtleneck and layering some summery pieces over it, so fall and winter are my go-to season,” she says of mixing her favorite winter pieces with some warm-weather essentials. “I love staple blazers, I love big jackets, coats, and hats. I think that the world’s kind of your oyster when you just have so many layers to play with.”

Richie had mostly been focusing on fashion with her House of Harlow 1960 line, but when she made the decision to extend her lifestyle brand, she turned to a very important focus group: her kids, including five-year-old son, Sparrow, who helped name the candles in the home fragrance line.

“He has never named anything in his life. We have two pet turtles he got two years ago and he has not named them — he’s just not good at names,” she joked. “But he named all three candles. I was really proud of them and I was into them.”

But what her son is into? Rock music — like his dad Joel Madden. “[Sparrow is] a rock n’ roller,” she said. “He loves The Eagles and Jimi Hendrix and he’s a huge Don Henley fan. My daughter’s [Harlow]’s a girlie-girl. Joel and I both have always let our kids be 100 percent who they are, as far as the way that they dress and the things that they’re interested in. Whatever they’re interested in, I’m interested in.”

Who is your fashion icon? Did you take style cues from your mom growing up?

–Nicole Sands

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