Photography by Trevor Smith

Sylvie Millstein

Designer, Hellessy

| SoHo

Statuesque and effortlessly composed, Hellessy designer Sylvie Millstein’s French roots are practically palpable— she’s the kind of woman who balances elegance with ease, who looks put together, and yet, never over-styled. It follows that her clothing label would reflect a similar savoir-vivre: between sinewy, floor-skimming skirts, relaxed palazzo trousers and nubby knits, Hellessy makes a strong case for pared-down chic. Millstein, who originally hails from Versailles (we like to imagine a Marie Antoinette childhood of macarons, gateaux and puff pastries, non?), has a CV that reads more like an MVP list of European fashion— a senior buyer for over a decade, she went from Givenchy to Harrods to Chanel. Now, with a few collections under her own belt, it’s clear she’s hit her stride— just look at the cozy, cream cardigan she paired with a sensual skirt and cascading scarf at her most recent F/W ’15 presentation, or the ruby red silk blouson she showed with an asymmetrical pencil skirt— absolument parfait. Here, Millstein sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I love Sant Ambroeus (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— its proximity to my home, the ambiance and delicious food make it an ideal spot for a business breakfast or lunch, a coffee or even a perfect date night dinner. I never get tired of ordering the artichoke salad or their branzino. The service is impeccable and the French maître d’, Ali is so nice (sometimes, he even makes an exception for me and delivers to my apartment).

COFFEE OR TEA: Green tea at Bar Masa in the Time Warner Building (MAP IT, x). They serve a pretty authentic Sencha at the correct temperature with just the right amount of tea. I am half Japanese and lived in Japan for 11 years so I am picky about my green tea!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: I’d have to say ACME (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). Since the reopening, I’ve been addicted to trying anything on their menu from the duck in a jar (R.I.P.) to their classic chicken and eggs (which also makes for a great breakfast the next day)— it’s one of those dishes where I am not ashamed to take home leftovers, which is normally a “no-no” for a French native like me.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: SoHo!  I think the sites uptown are pretty straight-forward and visitors can normally handle them on their own. When it comes to SoHo, I love walking guests around from Crosby Street to Greene Street; it has the best downtown shopping and dining spots and it’s a great place to people watch.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A margarita. It’s a bit cliché, but La Esquina (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) makes a pretty good one.  Their tequila-based gimlet (which you can ask for at the bar) is also good and it’s a healthier alternative.

MUSIC PICK: I love a wide variety of music— from Calvin Harris to New Order and Prince. It’s important that the music is upbeat and makes me want to dance and sing along. The lounge at the Ludlow Hotel (MAP IT, x) has one of the best playlists in the city; it’s a nice mix of 80’s and 90’s, and the music floods into the restaurant (Dirty French) so you can dance in your seat while eating dinner.

LADIES LUNCH: Freds at Barneys (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)— great salads, a fun scene and I can always go shopping afterwards!

HAPPY HOUR: I’d have to say Sant Ambroeus again. It is literally an extension of my apartment so it’s easy for me with two young kids since it’s nice and close!

HEALTHY STAPLE: Mercer Kitchen (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) for the kale salad and sea bass carpaccio.

GUILTY PLEASURE: My biggest guilty pleasure is chocolate and I was excited when Ladurée opened in SoHo (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It feels so much like a Parisian outpost and they have the best hot chocolate; I may also tend to order a chocolate éclair when I go there…

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: I cannot share my real secrets! I am sworn to secrecy by my close friends that I’ve made since moving to NY who were nice enough to share them with me, but discovering Namaste (x), an at-home Thai massage and Shiatsu therapist service, was pretty life-changing. I get one every Sunday night after I put my children to bed.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: I’d have to say Sunday family brunch at Lure Fishbar (MAP IT, BOOK ITx). It’s a family tradition with my husband and two sons and it’s something that we look forward to doing all week. I love watching my children devour the food on the children’s menu. What also makes the experience special and unique is their great service as they always give us a large booth where we can have silly conversations without annoying the other customers having brunch.

REGULAR AT: I love to go see the ballet and other dance performances at the Joyce Theater (MAP IT, x). My best friend takes me there every month and it’s a real journey. Each season is so different— there is such an eclectic mix of dance companies and every performance there leaves me breathless.  Afterwards, my mind feels refreshed and energized.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: The Waverly Inn (MAP IT, BOOK ITx). I love the dark setting.

KID-FRIENDLY STAPLE: Besides our weekly brunches, we like to go to Mr. Chow in Tribeca (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) during the summer and sit outside. My kids wrap the special chicken in a Chinese wrapper meant for lacquered duck and call it their special burrito!

CLOSET CHECK: I love to wear a uniform and it usually consists of a t-shirt or a Hellessy sweater and jeans. Between designing collections and dressing my kids and husband, I don’t have much time to think about my own outfits and I tend to just wear my own designs. I do, however, love to browse for one-of-a-kind coats on eBay or 1stDibs.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I would say Lafco New York for candles, exquisite hand soaps and ambience perfumes.

FOR THE KIDS: The MoMA Store on Spring Street (MAP IT, x) has some great arty items, educational books and toys. I also love the Kisan concept store for clothing (MAP IT, x).

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Marie Robinson (of the Marie Robinson Salon (MAP IT, x)) is the one colorist who knows how to keep me blonde. Since I moved to NY from Tokyo, I’ve tried so many places and she is the only one I’ve stayed with.

FIT PICK: I am quite lazy and usually avoid the gym, except for my twice-a-week private pilates classes with Jeffrey (x) at Equinox SoHo (MAP IT, x); he gives me a mean 50-minute, full-body work-out (a mix of mat and machine).

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Growing up I lived between Paris and Tokyo and rarely ran into an American movie star or rock legend, but when I moved to NY, there was one day where I had to call our new neighbor, Courtney Love and ask her to turn down her base guitar and later greeted David Bowie in the elevator. I immediately thought to myself, “only in New York.” CP

Sylvie’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Dessert at Ladurée; Hellessy womenswear; La Esquina; Accessories and wear at Kisan. Second Row: Décor from the MoMA Design Store; Lunch at Freds; Hellessy womenswear; ACME.


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