SO FARHI, SO GOOD

Nicole Farhi: It’s been a big week for British designer Nicole Farhi. She opened a stunning 16,000-square-foot flagship store on East 60th Street across from Barneys New York — her largest shop in the world. She staged her women’s wear show here for the first time. And right after, she whisked hundreds of guests in special taxis uptown for a party to fete her sprawling new three-level Michael Gabellini-designed space. That’s a big splash for a designer who usually shuns the spotlight, preferring everything to be low key.
Her collection for spring certainly was. Farhi’s vaguely futuristic gunmetal leather coats and skirts had verve, as did the nude leather dresses and asymmetric wrap skirts. She lost some of her punch, however, with those abstract hand-painted silks. But, then again, the French-born designer has never had much interest in party clothes. She prefers to call her designs “constant friends.”
“I have always been dressing myself this way, casual and easy, so from the very beginning, I was clear on what I wanted to do,” she said in a recent interview. “I will never do things just to be extreme. That’s not me.” Farhi has even applied her sophisticated ease to a home collection, which she introduced last year.
Her party guests — a lively mix of New York socialites, fashion groupies and assorted British expats — certainly made themselves at home in the store. They nibbled on fig canapes prepared by Farhi’s restaurant, Nicole’s, which is located on the store’s lower level. And they roamed at will, hoping to catch a glimpse of their shy hostess and her husband, playwright Sir David Hare. There was a deejay playing samba music, but no dancing. The volume was too low — just the way Nicole likes it.