CATHERINE’S CHINATOWN: Electrified by a recent six-day stay in China, Catherine Malandrino is eager to break into that luxury-minded market. The designer made the journey to meet with potential distributors. Checking into The China Club, a Beijing hotel built from a 17th-century palace, and checking out the art scene in the 798 District were bonuses, as was the architecture. “I never imagined the contrast between the traditional building — the Forbidden City in the center of Beijing — and the most interesting modern architecture and the most impressive luxury world.
“For me, Beijing was a real discovery. I have been to Hong Kong a few times, but they are really different places,” she said. “You can’t really imagine what is going on there, especially coming from America, where women are very price conscious, focused on sales and finding off-price merchandise. There, the customer is totally into luxury and designers. They understand the brands, style and fashion.”
Noting how Miuccia Prada and Hermès plan to show in Beijing, Malandrino also singled out Louis Vuitton and Chanel for their grand freestanding stores. Retail in general is in another stratosphere, she added. The designer said of Beijing’s luxury malls: “They are not even comparable — the stores are three to four times bigger than the ones we have here. It’s really impressive, what’s going on there.”