NEW YORK — Swimwear designer Sylvie Cachay, 33, was found dead in a bathtub Thursday morning at the members-only club Soho House in the Meatpacking District here.
Cachay’s boyfriend of about six months, Nicholas Brooks, was taken in by police for questioning Thursday, according to friends of the deceased. At press time, a New York City Police Department spokesman would say only that investigators were speaking with a person of interest.
The 24-year-old Brooks is the son of Academy Award-winning composer Joseph Brooks, who faced 82 counts of sexual assault last year. Accused of raping 11 women he lured to his apartment by promising them movie roles, the elder Brooks pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges and is free on bail. Joseph Brooks’ next court date is Dec. 21.
Soho House staff discovered Cachay’s body around 3:30 a.m., after another guest phoned the front desk to report a leaking ceiling. The police spokesman declined to provide any specifics about the crime scene. But a friend of Cachay’s, who requested anonymity, said the designer was found in an overflowing bathtub wearing a sweater and underwear. There were said to be signs of “a little trauma around her neck,” she said.
Autopsy results are expected to be released Friday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for the New York City Chief Medical Examiner.
“It wasn’t the healthiest of relationships. He seemed unstable,” the friend said. “And there was that age difference.”
Cachay allegedly checked into the Soho House due to a fire in her West Village apartment. A New York City Fire Department spokesman said there was no record of engines being sent to her West Village address. However, an NYPD spokesman said investigators were looking into the claim of a fire.
At the time of her death, Cachay worked in design for Anne Cole swimwear. From 2006 to 2008, she ran her own swimwear label, called Syla. After losing her financial backing from a Mexican investor as a result of the financial fallout of October 2008, she shuttered her business. But Cachay remained committed to starting it back up once she found another investor, said Kate Godici, owner of Punch PR, which represented Syla.
“She was at the top of her game when she lost her financing. Sylvie was trying to get back on her feet again,” she said. “She was on staff at Anne Cole, but her baby was Syla. She always planned to go back to that.”
Raised in Virginia and Peru, Cachay studied fashion and art in Paris via Parsons The New School for Design, and then returned to the States to further her design studies at Marymount University. After graduating with a BFA, she relocated to New York and started her career by interning at Marc Jacobs. She moved on to Tommy Hilfiger, where she worked in design for juniors’ and women’s sportswear. A Tommy Hilfiger spokeswoman could not confirm that as of Thursday.
In 2002, Cachay joined Victoria’s Secret to work on the brand’s upper-end swimwear. After four years, she exited to get Syla off the ground. The Syla Web site describes the prints-driven swimwear as “earthy glamour, hippy-couture.”
Cachay’s friends were still dealing with the shock of the news Thursday night. One, Alicia Bell, who designs the Bell label, said, “No words can describe how I feel right now. I am absolutely devastated and in utter disbelief. Sylvie was a very close friend of mine and I miss her terribly. She was full of life and love and talented beyond words.”
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