As fashion designer Cathy Hardwick makes a residential move, her beloved items go on the market. Hardwick’s stately Upper East Side home had been personally decorated by none other than the Prince of Chintz himself, Mario Buatta, as part of a collaboration of creative minds and lifelong friendship. The final effect is lavishly layered, Baroquely ornamental and truly one of a kind. Here, she shares more about her relationship with Buatta, and some of the pieces she is consigning with Sotheby’s Home.

Shop Cathy Hardwick’s personal collection now, exclusively on Sotheby’s Home.

Featured above: Italian Asparagus Vessel, Regency Convex Girandole Mirror, Spode Transfer Printed Table Articles

Can you describe your relationship with Mario Buatta, the designer behind your apartment looks?
Well, Mario was more than just a designer to me. He was a very good and dear friend. You know, I always liked his taste and the kind of work he did. He was very well known. I learned about his work from publications in Architectural Digest and other magazines. I just called him up one day. That’s how I met him, and we became immediately very good friends. He had a wonderful sense of humor and we used to laugh a lot together. We both loved good food, and I used to cook and bake for him. He used to love all the food I made for him, everything from pasta to cream puffs. He used to come over for dinner a lot, but I also used to bring things to his house. Because I traveled to Italy for work a lot, I would bring him special things you could only get there and that I would then also make at home for him. We just became very good friends.

The original Architectural Digest article covering the project pictures a lively collaboration between you and Buatta. Can you please update us on the fate of your Staffordshire collection after Buatta deemed it not a good fit for the project?
I had a big collection of porcelain Staffordshire dogs long before I met Mario, and which I kept long after, even though he was not crazy about them. I kept them all along the window sill in the dining room, lined up symmetrically by order of size. Eventually, after so many years, I just grew out of them. I guess I was tired of having them collect dust and having to be so careful not to break anything. Anyway, I sold them somewhere about ten years ago, I don’t remember how or where.

One of Buatta’s mottos was that a project is never done, and it should evolve with time. How has your apartment’s looks evolved after Buatta’s original design?
For the most part, everything pretty much stayed the same. I didn’t make any big changes. Mario did all of my curtains and upholstery, and occasionally I would buy a little painting here and there at Tepper or a house sale. I had quite a few things of my own before, too. I always liked the same kinds of things that Mario did. I always loved that cozy, slightly cluttered look. He used to call it “organized clutter.” I suppose I kept buying things over the years, but they simply fit in so well because our taste is so similar, that I hardly remember what came from where. As I said, I like a crowded space, populated with antique furniture and comfortable chairs and sofas. I don’t like empty, sparse modern rooms. I like them to be filled up with beautiful old-style English and European things. I feel so much more comfortable in these kinds of spaces.

You brought up your kids in the apartment, which might go against the current mind-set of what a “kids-friendly” home should be. Can you tell us your experience of having kids in a “grown-up” setting?
When my children were young and growing up, I did not have that apartment. Back then, I had a more simple space, even though I always collected special Middle Eastern and Asian furniture that fit my budget. It was only after they were all grown up and left the house that I decided to have my apartment done up by Mario. This was in the early 1990s when I moved from one apartment in the same building to a bigger apartment on the other side with a better layout. Everything needed to be redone, so it was the perfect blank slate for Mario, who pulled everything together visually. It was later featured in the February 1997 Architectural Digest.

Featured above: English Dog Seated On A Pillow, English Dog In a Garden Landscape, English Seated Dog

Can you choose your favorite items you are consigning, and where you found them or any history you have attached to them?
I don’t really have favorites. I like everything. But I do love all the curtains and how they tie everything together to give color and height to the rooms. Mario did all the upholstery. Even though I had a very nice couch, he had it recovered, and selected the other fabrics for the room. I also always loved those dog paintings, a few of which I picked up in Florence and London during travels. Even before I met Mario, I had a few Old Master paintings, and he added a few more. As an exception, I acquired all those modern Cedric Hartman lamps in the early 1970s, and always found them so functional and well designed. But actually, I had a lot of antique furniture that was similar to Mario’s taste because those were the kinds of things I liked. Mario was the one who put everything together, using the things I had before, such as the black japanned cabinet and black lacquer coffee table, and made them all work even better together, adding the stripped child’s chair and those gilded candle sconces with his magic touch.

How do you choose what to buy in general? Is it an impulse or do you always buy with a plan?
Whenever I found something I liked, an old table or painting, I just bought it. It always fit in perfectly because my taste is very consistent with Mario’s. I never plan too much, but that was the genius of Mario and why I liked the overall look of his interior design.

Adrienne Vittadini shares her memories of Cathy’s apartment

Tell us about the first time you saw Cathy Hardwick’s apartment and your impressions?
The first time I went to Cathy’s, I remember the charm of the apartment, the stenciled floors, the eclectic furniture and the warmth and coziness.

What are some of the objects or art you most admire in her space?
Of all the art in the house, my favorite pieces were her photographs of her ancestors.

How would you describe Cathy Hardwick’s style when it comes to her décor?
There was also a timelessness and streak of femininity which was expressed in the cushions and accessories, etc. Mario, who was also a friend of mine, certainly added his touch with the choice of chintz and certain fabrics.

What is your most memorable moment in the apartment?
There were so many memorable moments at Cathy’s…there were the exciting dinner parties, stimulating conversations and fascinating guests, and of course Cathy’s divine cooking.

Patricia Field shares her memories of Cathy’s apartment

Tell us about the first time you saw Cathy Hardwick’s apartment and your impressions?
After establishing a personal relationship with Cathy through her fashion design and her high level of taste, we became personal friends. Our friendship continued after many visits to her Park Avenue apartment. As a reflection of Cathy’s personal style, the décor of her apartment was chic, warm and inviting with many well-chosen pieces.

What is your most memorable moment in the apartment?
Among the many memorable moments in Cathy’s apartment were the beautiful dinner parties! Along with Cathy’s chicness was her fine taste in food and her enjoyment in entertaining.

How would you describe Cathy Hardwick’s style when it comes to her décor?
When it comes to Cathy’s décor, I would definitely say that it replicates her sense for style, which was how we originally bonded.

What are some of the objects or art you most admire in her space?
Cathy had many interesting and original pieces of artwork as well as ceramics hanging on her walls. She said she « hated empty walls » and she covered her walls with beautiful sconces, paintings and ceramics.

Tom Ford shares his memories of Cathy’s apartment

Tell us about the first time you saw Cathy Hardwick’s apartment and your impressions?
The first time that I ever saw Cathy’s apartment was just after I began working for her in the fall of 1986. She asked me to go to the apartment and to help Mario [Buatta] hang some pictures. It was stunning. Very classic, which surprised me, as Cathy’s clothes were so sleek and contemporary.

What is your most memorable moment in the apartment?
Cathy was kind enough to invite me to dinner often and introduced me to Richard Buckley, whom I have been with for 33 years now. A great deal of our courtship took place in Cathy’s apartment. The mood at Cathy’s dinners was always relaxed and warm. And of course, the rooms and flowers and table settings, and most importantly the lighting was always perfect! The apartment always had a glow to it.

How would you describe Cathy Hardwick’s style when it comes to her décor?
Classic, classic, classic…and VERY Mario Buatta. Very.

What are some of the objects or art you most admire in her space?
The thing about the apartment was that all of the objects, furnishings, drapes and pictures sat so perfectly together that what I remember the most was the seamlessness of it all. No one particular object jumped out. The rooms were a kind of frame for their inhabitants.

Shop the Mario Buatta Living Collection now on Sotheby’s Home

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