627aa16a27868210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q3Designs on Manhattan327aa16a27868210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____Designs on ManhattanThroughout the frenzy of New York Fashion Week which drew to a close last week, the designer Catherine Malandrino returned every evening to this Upper West Side haven that she shares with her family.<p><embed src="http://multimedia.thenational.ae/pic440_new.swf?xmlfile=http://multimedia.thenational.ae/ssp_director/images.php%3Falbum=1922&xmlfiletype=Director" quality="high" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" width="440" height="360" name="The National" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" allowFullScreen="true" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"/></p>
<p>The French-born fashion designer Catherine Malandrino creates feminine dresses with an edge for "women who blend romance and confidence". She describes this contrast as "soft elegance", and it is at the core of everything she creates, evident in her shops from Los Angeles to Dubai Mall, and especially in the home that she shares with her husband, Bernard, and their eight-year-old son Oscar. Located in Manhattan's Upper West Side at the edge of Harlem, the sun-drenched apartment vibrates with Malandrino's favourite colour, a shade of canary yellow that is also a trademark of all her boutiques.
Malandrino finds "inspiration everywhere at any time", and her home is a testament to her creative energy. Many treasured objects are found at flea markets, vintage shops or on the street, and brought together to form a colourful and highly personal collage. A painting of a banana that she bought from a Manhattan street vendor sits nicely on the kitchen shelf, complementing her collection of coloured 1960s Murano glasses.</p>
<p>In the living room a pair of vintage platform shoes is transformed into a sculptural object on a side table. A collection of 1960s silver bowls with colourful enamelled interiors, a polished metal coffee table and a zebra rug add touches of glamour. Books are great source of inspiration for Malandrino, and dozens of them line the black-stained oak shelves along one wall. "To me, they are the central thing in the room," she says.</p>
<p>Her love for New York's energy is reflected in an enormous black-and-white photograph of the city that she bought at an auction in Grand Central Station. Two large paintings celebrating the spirit of Harlem hang on the opposite wall.
Every piece of furniture is carefully chosen for its clean lines - such as the modular sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cappellini, which is covered in her other favourite shade: hot fuchsia. The white leather and painted-wood sofa that separates the living and dining areas is a prototype by her good friend, the French architect Christophe Pillet, who also designed her flagship shop in the Meatpacking District. Scattered about the apartment are paintings by the US-based artist Kareem Liya, whose fashion illustrations also decorate Malandrino's shops.</p>
<p>The view of the Hudson River and the park that lines it is stunning, giving a real sense of the seasons.
Having lived in Manhattan for seven years, Malandrino also brings to her home a strong sense of Paris. French music plays in the background while she pulls from her bookshelves a volume about Colette, whose heroine, Claudine, was the inspiration for the Autumn 2005 collection.
With the deep-pink furniture and diaphanous dresses from Malandrino's current collection that hang in the bedroom, the apartment feels feminine - but without being completely girlie. In putting together everything she loves, Malandrino strikes that difficult balance between graphic, clean lines and pretty, romantic elements. It is a perfect fusion of the energy of Manhattan and the romance of Paris.</p>