Chef Angie Mar is admittedly not a fashion designer, though she is no stranger to the scene. She pals around with designers like Oscar de la Renta’s Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, Peter Som, and Sally LaPointe; and has a closet stocked with Givenchy, Chanel, Gucci, and Balenciaga. But as of today, the owner and chef de cuisine of the Beatrice Inn—in a measured way—is strengthening her ties to the sartorial world by launching a line of apparel that captures her restaurant’s evolution throughout the last century.
Indeed, reinvention is the hallmark of longevity, and the Beatrice Inn has certainly gone through its fair share of life cycles. The storied hotspot located in New York’s West Village began as a speakeasy in the 1920s; became an Italian eatery in the ’50s, subsequently attracting the patronage of Woody Allen and academics like Victor Navasky; turned into a raucous night club for B-listers and wannabe fashion stars after it was bought by DJ Paul Sevingney and a few partners in 2006; and then became a watering hole for power brokers when Graydon Carter took over the deed in 2013. Now, under the dominion of Mar, who bought it from the Vanity Fair’s erstwhile editor in 2016, the Beatrice Inn has transformed into a restaurant that concisely combines all its past lives—with a hefty helping of the Seattle native’s own sensibilities.
All the glitz, glamour and hedonism that characterize the legend of the Beatrice Inn—along with Mar’s personal appearance (orchestrated with the help of stylist Annebet Duvall)—are encapsulated in Butcher + Beast: Mastering the Art of Meat, a tome published in October 2019. From page to page, Mar, Jamie Feldmar, and photographer Johnny Miller illustrate scenes that are brawny, cool, and makes no qualms about being excessive, both in the portions of the meals and the setup of Polaroid images. Still, even with the display of these indulgences, there is something welcoming and inclusive in the restaurant’s presentation. It is as if Mar is inviting all into a family party—albeit an incredibly decadent one.
This idea of family, evidently, was central to Mar’s new fashion collection, which was made in collaboration Autum Studios, a company owned by her brother Conrad Mar. The line is comprised of sweaters, hoodies, and track pants that feature images from the book and catch phrases such as “Lady Bea,” “Saturday Night,” and “Free the Beatrice.” And with only 150 pieces made, the stock—which is priced from $78 to $198 and sold exclusively at Autumstudios.com—is just as rare as her Pinot Meunier–aged Wagyu Chateaubriand.
Here, Mar dishes about her fashion collection, and why she leaves designing to the professionals.
Barry Samaha: As a chef, what made you decide to create a fashion collection?
Angie Mar: Honestly, while I love and am inspired by fashion, I never thought I would ever create a fashion collection. The idea for this project was born while I was shooting photos for my book Butcher + Beast with photographer Johnny Miller. Our goal was to celebrate and bring to life the rich nocturnal and decadent history of the Beatrice Inn. I then shared these photos with my brother Conrad Mar and his partner April Liang, the founders of Autum Studios, and we decided it would be cool to use some of the images along with slogans inspired by the book for a capsule collection. What a pleasure to be able to collaborate with Johnny, Conrad and April. These are fun, easy pieces, and I’m literally in love with each of them.
Samaha: So you don’t experience designing clothes?
Mar: Absolutely not. I really relied on Conrad and April, who are true designers. I am honestly always excited to be a part of any creative process, whether it is food, art, design, or writing. The thing that excited me the most about this process was that I got to be a part of the creative narrative for something involving my family.
Samaha: Do you think there are correlations between preparing food and designing apparel? If so, what are the parallels?
Mar: I am someone that does not create food in the same sense that a lot of chefs do. I don’t care about seasonality or buying local. I really just want the best product, regardless of where it comes from, or what time of year it is. Much of my inspiration for the dishes that I create comes from fashion collections, pieces of artwork, or a period in time, not from the actual ingredients themselves. I imagine that most artists and designers function in the same way. It’s really about putting an interpretation of a vision into the world, but it is the vessel that differs throughout many translations, whether it is a piece of canvas, a plate of food, a photograph, or an article of clothing.
Samaha: Why did you feel your brother’s company, Autum Studios, was the right partner?
Mar: When I was growing up, my father always instilled in us the value of doing business with family. It stems from his childhood—he was one of ten children and grew up during the Depression. Regardless of the hard times that they faced, everything they did was for the betterment of the family, and he wanted us to do the same. Collaborating with my brother Conrad and his partner April was a natural progression of my existing business. My partner at the restaurant is my cousin, and both of my brothers played a key role in the design of our brand. For us to be able to work together on a capsule collection is, for me, truly an honor, and there is no one else I would rather do business with.
Samaha: How would you describe the collection?
Mar: I always say that I have two modes: dressed in the highest heels and the vampiest gowns; or a Biggie Smalls-esque style with the oversized sweat suits, Air Force Ones and all the diamonds. When my brother and I first started talking about a collaboration, we wanted it to be all about elevated streetwear. I am always on the move, and I want clothes that I can either wear with heels and a men’s tuxedo jacket; and also wear when I am running around the city, or on a plane.
Samaha: What was the reason for adding all these catch phrases?
Mar: Restaurants are all unique, as is the culture that they contain. Each restaurant has its own language, its own sayings; its very much a living breathing organism. Many of the sayings and phrases that are in the collection are directly from my book, and of course things that are often said at the Bea.
Samaha: Why do you think having a capsule collection is a good way to promote your book and your restaurant?
Mar: For me, Butcher + Beast isn’t a cookbook. Of course there are recipes, and I hope that people do cook from it, but for all of us that were involved with making it, it was really to tell the stories that are held within the walls of this historic place. The story of my family, of doing business in New York, what it takes to get to the top of the restaurant culture, and of the eclectic and extraordinary lives that are lived around our tables. Fashion and art have always been a part of my life, and it only made sense to express those aspects of my life and personality within the book. This capsule collection is just another expression of that.
Samaha: Is this essentially a marketing expense?
Mar: I never do things just for the sake of marketing, but rather for the passion side of the project. For me, this is another expression of art, another expression of my passion, and another thing that I want to build for and with my family—just as my father would have done if he were still here today.
Samaha: Do you want to venture into the fashion arena further?
Mar: I will always support my family and friends who are in the fashion and art worlds. This collaboration was so fun to do, and came really at the right time. I love fashion, I always have, but I am, at the heart of it, a chef. I will always collect and wear beautiful things, but I will continue to, just as I did with this capsule collection, leave the designing to the professionals.
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