Catherine Malandrino And Mary J. Blige: BFFs, Collaborators
“I dress a lot of celebrities, but I never had the connection I have with Mary,” Catherine Malandrino said last night at Avenue. That would be Mary J. Blige, who was seated next to her on a banquette with the designer’s hand in hers. “It’s like when you meet somebody and say, ‘I know this person will be in my life forever.’ ” That moment happened almost a decade ago, after Malandrino saw Blige wearing one of her dresses in a magazine and got in touch. By the time she saw Malandrino at the designer’s 2001 show, Blige said, “I knew that what I felt in my heart about her was real.”
Now the two of them hang out, commiserate, make each other laugh. And sometimes, they collaborate. “When you love somebody, it’s like in a couple—you want to create something. Sometimes, it’s a baby,” Malandrino explained. Other times, it’s limited-edition T-shirts splashed with proclamations like I’M FREE and I’M POWER. The motivational tops are very on-message with Blige’s charity for women, FFAWN (Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now), which receives a portion of the profits the tees generate at Bloomingdale’s and Catherine Malandrino boutiques.
“Catherine is the bright light at the end of the tunnel. I’m the person that revisits the past to bring people to the light,” Blige explained. The shirts, appropriately, are available in black-on-white and vice versa. There’s also royal blue on the way, and Blige explained why: “It means you’ve reached a point where you know you’re enough, you’re worthy. That’s where we are, and that’s why we’re able to do what we’re doing.”