Even after nearly 16 years of the New York life, Catherine Malandrino still thinks of Paris as a second home. And soon she will be sharing that French flair through Kohl’s DesigNation program.
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
During an interview Wednesday morning at Pastis in Manhattan, the French-born designer vividly described leading the project’s eight-person team on a tour of Paris in late December. Malandrino, who uses her apartment in the 8th arrondissement regularly, took them to the Musée Rodin, Parc Monceau, Pont des Arts bridge, Pigalle and numerous other stops where they did more than admire the scenery. The intricate design of an iron gate outside Parc Monceau was reinterpreted for a jacquard print and the drawings Malandrino sketched on a paper place mat during a cappuccino break at Les Deux Magots wound up in another print. Even a photo of Paris rooftops that was taken from atop the Roue de Paris was used for a digital print on a silk jersey dress. “Every woman in America has a French dream in her head, especially a Parisian one,” said Malandrino.
“I always go to Paris for a reason but this time I wanted to step back as a woman who wants to rediscover Paris with all knowledge to make it more of a secret adventure for them,” Malandrino said. “I feel every city has a soul. New York is all about transformation. Paris is all about timeless propositions.”
As the third designer to participate in Kohl’s DesigNation, Malandrino will unveil her 80-style limited-edition collection in late September and early October. A graphic black-and-white striped cocoon cardigan inspired by the Column of Buren is one of Malandrino’s favorite items. Scarves, brooches, tote bags and berry-colored accents were among the finishing touches Malandrino used to show her team French women’s style. With retail prices ranging from $36 to $130, the line will be sold in 1,100 Kohl’s stores as well as through kohls.com. Malandrino will film a commercial with Kohl’s for the rollout, which will also include print and digital advertising. Council of Fashion Designers of America chief executive officer Steven Kolb and Li & Fung’s Haim Dabah first approached Malandrino about the Kohl’s deal. The fact that some of the proceeds will benefit the CFDA appealed to her, she said.
Having introduced the diffusion label Catherine Catherine Malandrino, which has an average retail price of $200, she said the challenge today to be an accomplished designer requires offering different products to different markets. “This is what I find changing. You have to have a much more open mind about adding different creativity to new categories and the man who has been showing us the way is Karl Lagerfeld,” she said.