NEW YORK — This was one fashion week invitation I wasn't going to pass up.
Rather than show her fall collection in her studio, as she normally does, handbag designer Dee Ocleppo and husband Tommy Hilfiger opened up their fabulous apartment in the Plaza Hotel condominiums. The couple reasoned that the collection, based on an opulent Grand Bazaar theme centered around the Istanbul marketplace, fit in with the surroundings of the lush apartment.
"It's definitely not a springy, summery-looking apartment. It's deeper, darker tones. It's the old-world concept," Hilfiger explained.
"It's definitely not a springy, summery-looking apartment. It's deeper, darker tones. It's the old-world concept. She thought that because it's the fall collection, she would show it here," Hilfiger explained as he welcomed guests to the 18th floor penthouse apartment.
"It just shows better here than in the showroom," Ocleppo said as she conversed with accessories editors from the major fashion magazine in the dining room, where classic black-and-white photos of Hollywood celebrities and politicians dotted the burgundy walls. "And I like that I didn't have to walk across the street (where her showroom is). It was convenient."
In the living room, Ocleppo's collection was grouped in vignettes beneath an Andy Warhol painting of Grace Kelly
(showcasing lapis-shaded handbags in various sizes), on an inlaid mother-of-pearl desk with a dramatic view of midtown Manhattan (where jeweled leather clutches were on display) and near a famous Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor
(featuring jade handbags from the new collection).
In the adjoining dining room, an mostly-red collection was displayed on the large center table. Ocleppo pointed out the Palm Beach bag, with a removable Kalgan lamb fur panel, for versatile luxury. "I'm a big fan of this one," she said, noting an attached smaller purse that fits into an exterior pocket of the handbag.
Detachable reversible covers
are a hallmark of Ocleppo's design and for fall/winter, she centers on wooly-looking Kalgan fur panels that can be removed or reserved to feature a different looking handbag of arabesque tapestry embroidery, burnished python or exotic leathers like ostrich. Other distinctive features include fringe trim, peacock feather embroidery and embossed designs.
Ocleppo, who is half Turkish, also noted the chic "evil eye" Plaza clutch in mink — versions include all-black or all-white with a contrasting blue eye inspired by the Turkish Nazar
Ocleppo, who is half Turkish, also noted the chic "evil eye" Plaza clutch in mink.
Beyond the dining room, Hilfiger directed guests to what he calls the "Eloise room," with a domed turret-tower and a custom-painted mural by Hillary Knight, the original illustrator of the beloved children's books
about the child who lived at the Plaza. The room was decorated with a round table and place settings for an afternoon tea.
"We're really located in an ideal place," Hilfiger said. "(Dee's) office is right across the street and we stop at Bergdorf's
on the way back and forth. We go to Central Park to go jogging, to Cipriani
restaurant across the street. Saks is right down the street on Fifth (Avenue). The children love the Apple store down the street and our small children love the FAO Schwartz
across the street. "
Even so, Hilfiger has listed the apartment for sale for a cool $80 million, although it appears to have been taken off the market recently, Curbed
Hilfiger and Ocleppo were in Houston twice last year, where she showed her handbag collection
at Saks Fifth Avenue and to kick off the store's Key to a Cure
shopping weekend. And both said they were eagerly looking forward to coming to Texas again.
"We hope we can do the Rodeo
," Ocleppo said. "I've heard that's a bucket list thing to do."