I first noticed Catherine Malandrino’s designs at Henri Bendel’s in New York City about ten years ago. They were so original, edgy yet feminine…and youthful I thought at the time. I didn’t actually try on one of her dresses until years later….a colorful print silk one with a leather and metal ring strap caught my eye.
And I needed a dress for an upcoming college reunion. You know how important it is to knock them dead at an event like that. I went for it and have worn the dress many times racking up favorable comments along the way.
I now own a teal blue wool dress from last winter’s collection and just purchased a navy jersey knit. I didn’t go looking for Malandrino designs as I thought they weren’t age appropriate but kept getting drawn to them. I think her dresses work on most ages and figures because of the way she gathers and folds the fabric in a vertical direction so that it complements one’s figure but can hide any unflattering bulges at the same time. I debated with the saleswoman when buying my first silk dress. She wanted me to go with my size but I felt more comfortable buying the next size up. I didn’t need to wear any Spanx or hold in my stomach and I felt both confident and a bit slinky striding along in either heels or flats.
Here’s a designer who made a successful start in Paris but had a love affair as she calls it with America. She started sketching dresses as a child and after graduating from Esmod, worked for Dorothée Bis, Louis Féraud, Emanuel Ungaro, and took over as the creative force at the French label ‘Et Vous’. She finally left Paris for New York in 1997 to follow her dream with her business partner and husband Bernard Aidan. Once there she relaunched the Diane von Furstenberg collection and started her own label with the goal of combining the romance and elegance of Paris with the energy of Manhattan.
She presented her first “Flag” collection here in New York in 2001, which is now on display at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
|"Flag" dress at FIT|
Soon after her designs were being worn by Madonna and the stars of the HBO series “Sex and the City.” She was on her way. Her bright yellow label, tags and hanger loops are now as recognizable as her silhouette.
She has been described as the most photographed French women in America after the Statue of Liberty. Hm, I wonder how she might have dressed Lady Liberty? Note the drapes.