NEW YORK — More than a platform to show off her hard-to-find, high-end collection, Catherine Malandrino’s new kaleidoscopic flagship is a glimpse of her expanding world.
Eighteen months after securing the 3,500-square-foot space, the French-born designer finally pulled off the wrap around the exterior of 652 Hudson Street here on Friday, much to the delight of Dawn Mello, Hannah Storm and other weekend shoppers. With its 1,600-pound handblown Italian glass chandelier, 10-year-old floor-sweeping hanging plant, handmade twisted wooden chairs, lighted Lucite tables and metallic mannequins in action poses, the Christophe Pillet-designed store gives visitors an eyeful. Not to mention the clothes.
Malandrino, the designer’s upscale collection, is the centerpiece, but her first handbags, shoes, scarves and hats are accents strategically placed throughout the store, the only place where they are available. In one corner, dragonfly pins rest on balls of country-club green moss, and one Lucite table displays spindly beachwood draped with furry scarves, patent leather and suede ankle boots and ladylike handbags. Mirrors and an oversized column made of citrus-colored glass shingles reflect the various pieces tucked away in the space, which also houses the Catherine Malandrino collection.
During a tour Monday, the designer mentioned plans to open similarly stylized stores, strengthen accessories and broaden her brand’s presence in Europe and Japan. She said last week’s opening was worth the wait. “We took our time to make it the way we had envisioned it. It was like having a baby. It took a long time to grow.”
Malandrino said she wanted to be on hand for opening weekend. “When we opened the door, it was a very emotional moment for me. I feel like my whole team is on stage, and I want them to drive the show.”
Business was so brisk over the weekend that plans for last-minute training tips for the staff went out the window, said her husband and chief executive officer, Bernard Aidan. The window could be to blame. Nearly the entire storefront is glass, giving passers-by a real sampling of what is inside. Those who wandered in bought items such as a peach $1,300 tweed bouclé jacket, a zip-front $850 sequined top and a $725 mohair shrug. With her husband perched on the semicircular citrine couch with champagne in hand, NBC’s Hannah Storm lingered for an hour before leaving with several pieces, Malandrino said.
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