Chic Happening…… A Chat with Designer Catherine Malandrino

Chic Happening…. Catherine Malandrino

Catherine Malandrino, NYC/Paris fashion designer, swept through town recently to show an edited capsule of her newest Fall collection at Neiman Marcus. I must say I wasn’t sure what to expect of Catherine, the interview, when I headed over to the St. Regis to meet her….I knew she was a New Yorker, imported from France with an Italian last name?!? I knew that she was talented. I’ve always been a fan of her urban, contemporary styles but knew little about HER. She was enchanting from the moment we began to speak. She said all of the right things that made me a friend for life. She has great respect for New York City, and what it takes to succeed there. She feels her clients are strong, confident women who like to look urban but feel feminine. Her disciplines are French, as she was trained by some of the best(Ungaro and Feraud) and her heart comes from her Mediterranean roots, an influence she feels gives her an affinity to warm colors to complete the mix within her collection.

It was her first trip to Texas and at the point that we met, she had only seen airport shops and the inside of the hotel, but had an assessment fo the Texas Woman just the same. Later that evening at Neiman’s, she had a grand time meeting many of the women who came to the show that were her clients or those that had hopes of becoming one. She charmed all with her warmth, her approachability and her great style. The show, styled to show Neiman’s best picks in a very sexy, urban way, featured many of the season’s hottest trends. Lots of leggings, soft knits with details galore, leather jackets, great white shirts and many of her fab chunky accessories. Her salute to “New York/Paris Rock” was very quick and certainly left the crowd longing for more!

Some highlights of our conversation…….
What is your impression of the Texas Woman?
The Texas woman is very, very feminine, which I would expect as she is a nice complement to the Texas man, who appears to be very strong. I know that the women here love color and wear a lot of it!

If I were to pick one style in your most recent collection to purchase, what would that one be?
Oh, it’s difficult to pick. It would have to be this leather trench coat that I am wearing today. It is one of my favorites.(all-over textured black leather trench)

I read that you were included in a book about Michelle Obama, “Michelle Style”……have you designed for our First Lady?
Michelle Obama is a great example of the modern woman. Like my clientele, she is an individual, confident woman. For her I designed a dress with cap sleeves, a deep V, but not too deep, with a 40′s style elegance. It was a silvery blue satin.

What has been one of the highlights of your career?
It would be my Flag collection in 2001; I had designed and planned it for six month before, as my entire into the American fashion scene. It happened to be right after 9/11. The entire country was focusing on patriotism and unity. I was shocked by the attention it received.

There has been a push this Fall by the Fashion Industry to re-engage shoppers to shop. What have you done to react to these difficult economic times to encourage shoppers of your collections?
I feel the industry was becoming too comfortable(or “boujois” as we say in France) and that American women are searching for a new start or rebirth. They are strong and think outside of the box. I always approach my collection that price has to be right for the customer in mind. Clothing needs harmony and balance, as well as price to be a true value.

Lastly, how do you feel the fashion business has changed since you began in this business?
I have been my own designer for 12 years now. Before that I was working in Paris. Back then, all fashion was just about Paris. Now it has become all about New York!

Also, must visit Houston’s hottest new online mag, Culture Map, to see more of my chat with Catherine.

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