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The Height of Sophistication
Suzanne Gannon | Photo: Kate Glicksberg | April 30, 2014
In their elegant nest atop the Pierre Hotel, Nicole Hanley Mellon and her husband, Matthew Mellon, proprietors of the chic new Hanley Mellon lifestyle brand, live a life full of fun, fashion and flair.
If fashion legend Diana Vreeland were around today, odds are she’d squeeze into her nightly cocktail circuit a stop at the home of Nicole Hanley Mellon and Matthew Mellon.
Here, in this two-bedroom suite snuggled into the residential fortress that is The Pierre hotel’s co-op—80 residences with twice-daily maid service, linens and room service, among other perks—the grand dame would feel right at home engaging in a vigorous debate about art and commerce, trends in apparel, or her most recent fashion-shoot travel, cigarette in its holder, tip stained with red lipstick.
The Mellons, who married in a flash four years ago in the sand on Harbour Island while vacationing at the Bahamas home of Diane von Furstenberg, moved into this 1,800-square-foot aerie in 2010. From a south-facing window, one can spy the striped facade of the GM building; from another, two slivers of Central Park that are best viewed, in Matthew’s estimation, by sticking your head out the bedroom window as far as you can.
“We found our soul mate in this apartment,” says Nicole. The couple, both victims of chronic property lust, had been inundated by electronic real-estate listings the year before the purchase. At the time, they were shuttling to and fro—Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, London. “We could live anywhere,” Nicole says, “but we knew this was our home.”
Six months pregnant on moving day, Nicole says they took a simple approach to readying the space. Pink wallpaper—dating, possibly, to a period of chintzy frenzy—was covered with white paint, as were blue moldings; ballooning swags were taken down; carpets were replaced; then art, furniture and various other items were installed in a blending of the contents of their prior homes. (Hers was on the Upper East Side, his in London.)
It helped that, for the most part, the pair like the same things—out-of-the-box designs as well as antique and vintage objects with significance and patina. Standouts include art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Capello, Vaclav Vytlacil, Maurice de Vlaminck and Damien Hirst, as well as mixed-media cheetah cubs and giraffes by Peter Beard. There’s a pair of midcentury swivel chairs covered in a vintage geometric upholstery Nicole was gifted by her sister; a polished stainless steel bed she plucked from a Greenwich warehouse while shopping with her mother; tables by Albert Hadley, Mark Hampton and Yves Klein; and mustard-colored leather armchairs with real heft.
“We wanted a chair you could curl up in with a paper and coffee,” says Nicole. “I think it was Celerie Kemble who suggested we go bold with the color.”
Particularly sentimental are two fabric elephants Nicole’s parents acquired at a Bronx Zoo party 30 years ago—which subsequently found a home in her father’s dressing room—and a large portrait of Matthew’s namesake, his grandfather, Matthew Taylor Mellon.
In a city of relentless renovation, the couple left intact their bathroom and the kitchen, an efficiency whose primary appliances are a hot plate, a refrigerator, a microwave and an electric kettle. There’s not a stovetop or oven to be found. That’s where the room-service burger with bacon and Swiss, fries and arugula comes in—at least on nights when Matthew and the nannies aren’t whipping up something crafty in the kitchen.
The heart of the home, where the deep-voiced Mrs. V would hold court under the glow of an imitation Castiglioni Arco lamp from the 1960s, is the spacious living room, with its 12-foot ceilings. Serving as salon and family room, art gallery and dining room, it’s also the headquarters for Hanley Mellon, the serial entrepreneurs’ online outpost for sophisticated shopping and lifestyle commentary.
During business hours, the site’s employee can be found pointing and clicking his way to fashion domination at a grand, library-like table while Nicole conceptualizes, then assembles, ensembles from digital images she finds on the Web—ensembles that shoppers can then purchase, in a seamless rerouting, from online retailers like Topshop, Shopbop and Net-a-Porter.
Matthew can usually be found in the offices of his latest company, Coin.co, exploring the frontier of digital currency and the future of Bitcoin in the pioneering spirit of his ancestors. “Creativity is the currency in our relationship,” says Nicole. “We build ideas, like a layer cake.”
Hanley Mellon’s newest initiative debuts this fall when the pair introduces the first Hanley Mellon collection—a traveling kit of chic garments that, when mixed and matched, can produce 50 separate looks. It’s a concept that veterans of first-class air travel and holders of runway-show seats will likely appreciate. The pieces, available in a knit blend, suiting fabric and cashmere—from least expensive to most—are grouped into three fabric/price ranges, with individual items retailing for $250-$2,000.
The clothing will be available on the company’s site and via trunk shows. The unveiling coincides with the couple’s foray into e-commerce: Shoppers will be able to purchase tunics, handbags, shifts and trousers directly through hanleymellon.com.
“I think creativity is inspired,” says Nicole. “Talent is innate, and skill acquired.”
Or, as their phantom party guest might comment, “Delicious! Delightful! Divine!”