When it comes to her luxury clothing and textiles line, I Pezzi Dipinti, designer Cathryn Collins thinks globally. Since founding the company in 1988, Collins has worked with craftspeople across the world–from Italy to India–to bring richly dyed textiles, gracefully tailored sweaters, and bespoke furs to her equally well-traveled clientele. But New York City is Collins’ home base of 20 years, and the site of I Pezzi Dipinti’s only brick-and-mortar space, a by-appointment-only atelier in Soho (though she also sells her wares at trunk shows in Aspen, London, and beyond). Collins is as loyal to her favorite spots as her fans are to her: she’s known to frequent Italian restaurant Sant Ambroeus’ Lafayette Street location up to four times a day, and always directs visiting friends to the Upper East Side’s Mark Hotel, where she shows off her creations twice a year. Here, the local shares her insider’s guide to the city that never sleeps, from where to find the best cocktails to the best (and un-touristed) view in town.
What neighborhood do you live in, and how long have you lived there? I live on the otherworldly Beekman Place overlooking the East River, just North of the United Nations. We've been there since 1996.
What neighborhood is your studio in, and how long has it been there? My studio is on the border of Soho and Nolita where it has been for 19 years, facing the Eastern and Southern skylines of Manhattan—a magnificent view, except on September 11, 2001. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the city.
Where would you put up friends visiting town? The Mark on 77th between Madison and Park (25 E 77th St.; 212-744-4300; themarkhotel.com). The proximity to great museums and galleries, Central Park, Sant Ambroeus around the corner (1000 Madison Ave.; 212-570-2211; santambroeus.com)—and the impeccable, cozy atmosphere of the hotel make it an ideal home away from home, even for a New Yorker. We do our shows for I Pezzi Dipinti there twice a year, and those two weeks at The Mark are always a joy.
Where is the best place to find the city's signature dish? Sant Ambroeus in Soho (265 Lafayette St.; 212-966-2770; santambroeus.com) or Omen on Thompson Street (113 Thompson St.; 212-925-8923; omen-azen.com). Sant Ambroeus and Omen have become New York cantinas in spite of their Italian and Japanese roots, respectively. At Sant A's the insalata carciofi and cacio e pepe and at Omen the agedashi are my New York comfort foods.
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? As I love to cook for my friends, favorite restaurants for entertaining visitors are always the ones that feel most like home. Since opening almost two years ago across Lafayette from my studio, Sant Ambroeus has been more or less an extension of I Pezzi Dipinti. Entertaining there is always the logical choice. I am in there three or four times a day between breakfast meetings, a late-morning coffee, a glass of wine at dusk with a friend, and/or convening a small group for dinner: great food, the light is always right, excellent playlist, friends from all walks of life wandering through.
Where can you find the best cocktails? Rita Sodi, the owner of I Sodi, should be a casting director for bartenders. Her crew mixes the most beautiful, precise, and delicious cocktails—and according to my husband, the best Negronis and martinis anywhere (I don't drink cocktails) (105 Christopher St., 212-414-5774; isodinyc.com).
The best beer list? No clue. Never a beer drinker. But the best sake list is at 15 East (15 E. 15th St.; 212-647-0015; 15eastrestaurant.com).
The best wine list? Again, Rita Sodi is so specific, so knowledgeable and her choices are always impeccable. I have found relatively esoteric favorites I've never seen on a list outside of Italy, and I’ve been turned onto many unknown and now-favorites due to Rita's palate.
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? I am out almost every night that I am actually in Manhattan, so "splurging on a night out" is not really the way I think about it. I love simple, perfect environments, uncomplicated, fresh ingredients, and great wine. The "splurge" might be to get a fantastic bottle of wine, but the restaurants would be the same—one of the five or six that we frequent: Sant Ambroeus Lafayette Street, I Sodi, Omen, 15 East, and if further uptown, Casa Lever (390 Park Ave; 212-888-2700; casalever.com) or Sette Mezzo (969 Lexington Ave; 212-472-0400).
What is your go-to after-hours bar? My bed.
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? An early, relaxed lunch at Bar Pitti (268 Ave. of the Americas; 212-982-3300), a wander through galleries on West 24th Street and a movie at Angelika (18 W Houston St.; 212-995-2570; angelikafilmcenter.com) or Sunshine (143 E. Houston St.; 212-260-7289; landmarktheatres.com).
What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? On the rare (always welcomed) weekend morning when I am not traveling or at our farm in Millbrook, N.Y., I drive to Christopher Street, park near the Hudson River, and go for a very early, long run along the river in Hudson River Park. I go down to a point parallel to the Freedom Tower and then back up to 23rd Street, before returning to Christopher and popping into Sant Ambroeus on Perry Street for a coffee.
Where is the best brunch? Any place that serves lunch.
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? La Colombe on Lafayette downstairs from my design studio (270 Lafayette St.; 212-625-1717; lacolombe.com).
What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? Driving back to Manhattan from Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge after dark... the glittering night skyline beckons you into her embrace.
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? Asked and answered... Hudson River Park.
What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? No longer quite so offbeat, but Mark Morris Dance Group based in Brooklyn is one of the cultural treasures of New York. Not only is the group one of the preeminent modern dance companies in the world, but the dance school and educational and health-related programs, in one way or another open to all, make this group one of the most valuable, humanist, inspiring attractions.
What’s the ultimate souvenir from the city—something you can only get there? A window onto the multiplicity of the world brought to you through conversations with New York City Yellow Cab drivers. In a world where we all are seeking "authenticity," they are the real deal—the representation of all of the tumult, self-determination, and pride that causes and enables people to keep on keeping on. I rejoice in all that I learn each day in conversation with this United Nations of humanity… only in NYC.
What’s the best-kept local secret? 28th Street at 6 a.m. or earlier. Nothing is more joyful and energizing than going to the flower market on 28th between Sixth and Seventh Avenues when all is quietly abuzz: color, creativity, nature, order, productivity, quasi-silence, sunrise... perfect.
Photos Courtesy Francesco Tonelli; Alex Spatari / Getty Images