Byline: Alison Oneacre
NEW YORK — Since most fashion designers have muses, it makes perfect sense that fashion-forward hotelier Ian Schrager would have one, too. Meet Zoe Cassavetes, Schrager’s recently appointed director of creative affairs and in-house inspiration.
“I wanted someone from the next generation — someone who cut across the disciplines of music, art, film and fashion,” Schrager says, smiling like a proud father while perched on a tiny stool in the lobby of his new hotel, Hudson, on 58th Street. “Once I met her, I just gravitated towards her.”
Indeed, Cassavetes, who had a stint as sales director at the Mercer Hotel, seems to exist at the epicenter of all things hip. She can always be found in the front row at Marc Jacobs, usually with close friend and co-muse Sofia Coppola. Her self-effacing style (“I’m an avid Club Monaco wearer,” she swears) — plus the pedigree of cool that comes from being daughter of Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes — makes her a regular on the fashion pages. Recently, she wrote and directed her first short film, “Men Make Women Crazy Theory,” which opened to raves at the Sundance Film Festival.
“I always wanted to be someone’s muse,” Cassavetes admits on the afternoon of the hotel’s opening, clad in Marc Jacobs, of course, her hair slicked back in a ponytail that emphasizes the Ava Gardner eyebrows. “When Ian approached me to to be the artistic leader of his empire, I was totally flattered. It sounds glamourous, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
A major part of her job is curating the library, the kind of room where Colonel Mustard might smoke his pipe: high ceilings, wood paneling, an antique billiard table and a wood-burning fireplace.
“It’s so romantic and cozy in here,” says Cassavetes, who overstocked the shelves with oversized books on artists and designers like Man Ray, Herman Miller and the Eameses — books she hopes guests will pick up, leaf through and absorb while relaxing with a cocktail on the caramel leather couches.
“Everything in here is artistically interactive, from the chess tables to the music to the books,” she continues.
Adding a whimsical air to the drawing room are the enormous Ingo Maurere dome lamp that hangs above the pool table and Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s cow photographs that cover the walls.
“The cows are very this year, aren’t they?” Cassavetes says with a deep-throated laugh. “The great thing about this job is that I have to go beyond my taste.”
To her detractors, who will insist that her new position is a result of her impressive connections, Cassavetes replies, “I can’t help that. Obviously, they don’t know me. I’m the total worker bee.”
Schrager, in fact, views her as an extension of himself. “She’s savvy. I used to follow my instincts, but now I rely on her instincts to help me.
“The way a moth is attracted to a flame, Zoe is attracted to certain things,” he says. “And then she whispers them in my ear.”