NEW YORK — In tribute to the exuberant life that Carlos Falchi led, family and friends of the designer gathered at Urban Zen here Thursday night to celebrate his memory.
Instead of mournful black, many women in the standing-room-only crowd wore jewel tones and vibrant prints as a wink at his love of color. His bags — in all shapes and sizes, including his draped-and-cinched Buffalo bag and patchwork leathers — were so well-represented that one photographer waited at the entrance to shoot every last one. Having dressed an assortment of performers over the years — including Tina Turner, Rihanna, Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger — Cher represented his musical roots by providing the substantial display of lilies.
Falchi died March 27 at the age of 70.
Vera Wang, Ron Frasch, Mindy Grossman, Kay Unger, Fern Mallis, Stan Herman and Lisa Smilor were among the faces in the crowd. One of the speakers, Michele Ateyeh, recalled how Falchi loved driving so much that even 20 blocks or a short spin to Michael’s restaurant were enough of a reason for him to get behind the wheel of his car. To try to keep the mood buoyant after the memorial service, Jennifer Balbier arranged for Davi Vieira’s Brazilian band to perform. Guests were also offered cheese-bread hors d’oeuvres, a personal favorite of the late designer.
Falchi’s daughters Kate and Juliet recalled memorable vignettes from childhood through adulthood. Kate Falchi laughed about sneaking into a Champagne tasting with her father at The Plaza Hotel, when he passed himself off as a Boston restaurant owner. “Though I don’t think the scam worked because we were the only ones that were not spitting out the Champagne.” she said.
Frasch, who first met Falchi in his Neiman Marcus days, talked about the designer’s love of life. On a more serious note, he said, “As the years progressed I realized just how important that Carlos was to our industry. He was the guy who was always there, always quick to advise and to mentor our young industry talent…to me that was Carlos — give, give, give — what a guy,” Frasch said. “And he was a wonderful friend, kind, curious and always so gentle.”
Frasch also described Falchi as someone who never left his roots, continuing to see the bright side, being remarkably creative and loving people. “From his humble, humble start to be recognized for his great genius is really, truly an amazing story. There are so many ways to remember this remarkable citizen of our times — his freedom, his passion, his immense love for his daughters and Missy,” he added.
Recalling how Falchi danced tirelessly at Frasch’s wedding, Frasch said his wife’s family still referred to Falchi as the superfun guy who showed them all how to dance. “This was Carlos, diving in, being a part of life and never sitting on the sidelines,” he said.