French-born fashion designer Catherine Malandrino designs feminine dresses with an edge for “women who blend romance and confidence.” She describes this contrast as “soft elegance,” and it is at the core of everything she creates, evident in her shops from Los Angeles to New York’s Meatpacking District and especially in the home she shares with her husband Bernard and their son Oscar. Located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, bordering the edge of Harlem, the sun-drenched apartment vibrates with Catherine’s favourite color, a spectrum of yellow that is also a trademark of all her boutiques.
Catherine finds “inspiration everywhere at anytime. Many treasured objects are found at flea markets, vintage shops, or on the street, and brought together to form a colourful and highly personal collage. A painting of a banana that Catherine bought from a Manhattan street vendor sits nicely on the kitchen shelf, complementing her collection of 60s Murano color glasses. A pair of vintage platform shoes are transformed into sculptural objects on the living room table. Books are great source of inspiration for Catherine, and they line the black-stained oak shelves along one wall of the living room. “To me, they are the central thing in the room,” says Catherine. Her love for the energy of Manhattan is reflected in an enormous black and white photograph of the city that she bought at an auction in Grand Central Station. Two large paintings celebrating the spirit of Harlem hang on the opposite wall. The view of the Hudson River and the surrounding park below is stunning, giving her a real sense of the seasons. Every piece of furniture is carefully chosen for their clean lines, like the modular sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cappellini. The white leather and painted-wood sofa that separates the living and dining areas is a prototype by her good friend, the French architect Christophe Pillet, who also designed her flagship shop in the Meatpacking District. Scattered throughout the apartment are paintings by the US-based artist Kareem Iliya, whose fashion illustrations also decorate Catherine’s shops.
Having been a resident of Manhattan for years, Catherine also brings to her home the romance of Paris. French music plays in the background while Catherine pulls from her bookshelves a volume on Colette, whose heroine Claudine was the inspiration for Catherine’s Fall 2005 collection. A collection of 60s silver bowls with colourful enameled interiors, a low polished metal coffee table, and a zebra rug add touches of glamour to the living room. The apartment feels feminine — with the deep-pink furniture pieces and diaphanous dresses from Catherine’s current collection hanging in the bedroom — without being completely girly somehow. In putting together everything she loves, Catherine manages to strike a difficult balance between graphic, clean lines and pretty, romantic elements. It is a perfect fusion of the energy of Manhattan and the romance of Paris.