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WWD Monday | August 7, 2006

Rodriguez's Designs Check Into Gramercy

By Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Julian Schnabel may have decked out Ian Schrager's soon-to-be-opened Gramercy Park Hotel, but Narciso Rodriguez will be dressing staffers.

Like Schnabel, Rodriguez met the hotelier many years ago. But outfitting the ever-style-conscious Schrager's staff was no small side project for the designer. When all was said and done, he created 18 looks, and 1,000 pieces went into production.

"I have always admired Ian and was honored when he asked me to collaborate with him on this project," Rodriquez said. "When Ian started the process of picking a look for GPH, he had a clear idea of an elegant, clean and personalized look for every member of his staff. He’d seen my spring and fall ’06 collections and said it was the direction he wanted to go in."

But that didn’t mean Rodriquez was exempt from an audition of sorts. He staged a mini fashion show featuring outfits for the concierge, bellman, front desk, bar and restaurant staff, as well as an army of housekeeping staff.

Interestingly, Schrager has described this project as "the ultimate antibrand, antidesign hotel." In a press release, he likened walking inside the Gramercy Park Hotel to "stumbling into an artist’s studio or home."

Compared with the John Pawson-designed hotel interspersed with marquee art and decorated by Schnabel, the staff will look understated when the hotel opens Tuesday. Following Schrager’s vision, Rodriquez created a black, white and ecru wardrobe that employees are encouraged to mix and match daily as they see fit.

"The look is tailored and polished, and each piece is made from the finest materials to add to the luxury of the hotel’s atmosphere," Rodriquez said. "This, coupled with the idea that everyone is uniform but not in uniform, is unique to the GPH."

The designer’s signature seaming, draping and discreet details can be seen throughout the women’s collection, which consists of a cocktail dress, slim pants, skirts, shirts and tops. Most female staffers have one or two looks to choose from, but the more visible women working the front desk or as concierges will have five outfit options.