The Galaxy Dress by Markarian

Inside Markarian Designer Alexandra O’Neill’s Greenwich Village Aerie


NEW YORK (Vogue) — During the day, Alexandra O’Neill’s Greenwich Village apartment doubles as her brand’s headquarters. The Markarian team of four taps away at their laptops on the Bertoia dining chairs, surrounded by clothing racks displaying the Spring and Resort collections, while at night, O’Neill invites friends over for dinner parties. Menus are created based on what is fresh at the nearby Union Square Greenmarket and served on her favorite zodiac Laboratorio Paravicini plates and vintage French tablecloths or Zsuzsanna Nyul table linens. On the evening before my visit, a gaggle of friends had gathered for Halloween costume-making, and during my tour of the apartment, the feather-and-jewel-festooned headdresses were displayed alongside Markarian’s Spring ’18 Saturn clutches.

Designer Alexandra O’Neill

The smooth, clean lines and muted hues of Alexandra O’Neill’s Greenwich Village apartment might seem to exist in sharp contrast to the festive frills of her clothing line, Markarian, but a love of textiles and attention to detail suffuses both. “I love doing prints and over-the-top for the clothing because it changes seasonally, but your home is more permanent and you’re never going to get sick of neutrals,” explains the designer, her Yorkie, Winston, curled on her lap and her Maltese, Milly, peering up from the antique Persian rug (brought back from a family trip to Turkey). “But I have all my interesting pops.” Those pops include a pair of cobalt mid-century pendant lamps above the matte black-painted kitchen and gem-color velvet pillows from ABC Carpet & Home on the oyster white sofa.

During a complete gut renovation of the prewar one-bedroom, O’Neill uncovered and restored many of the original moldings and design elements that had been hidden and built over through the years. Cove lighting was replaced with moldings modeled after the originals, and the lowered kitchen and hallway ceilings were pushed back up to their original height. For O’Neill, the decision to take on the task of decorating the apartment on her own was an easy one. “I’m so specific in the taste that I have and the things that I like that it translates to my home as well,” she explains, still admitting she couldn’t have done it without her nimble project manager. “And I’m such a homebody, so if I’m not comfortable in my home it’s not ideal.”

A giant Cire Trudon Odalisque candle accents the ledge below the French windows, which O’Neill had installed throughout the apartment. By deepening the existing windowsills and pulling the bookshelves further out into the room, she created two cozy window seats, one used to display treasures and the other, dressed with a Madeline Weinrib pillow, as her reading nook, a grapevine charmingly climbing up the outside of the window. The rose gold mirror above the mantelpiece hides the TV where O’Neill likes to watch “Stranger Things” or “Versailles,” though during my visit, the entire wall is obscured by the rack of Markarian Spring dresses with floor-length feathery metallic fringe that tickles Winston’s snout as he passes.

The self-professed 1stdibs junkie sourced many of her mid-century gems from some of her favorite dealers on the site. “I love 1stdibs so much, I got almost everything from there,” she says. In the foyer facing the kitchen, a 1stdibs-sourced console is home to a pencil-on-paper portrait of O’Neill’s great-grandmother Abby, a trio of blown glass vases scored at the 28th Street flower market, and a brass conch shell vase gifted from her college best friend.

The living room is the heart of the home. A pair of large, Ad Reinhardt–esque abstract canvases created by O’Neill in college hang above the Restoration Hardware sofa. Topiaries in John Derian Tuscan pots are framed on the windowsill by the greenery of the courtyard below. A pair of James Sansum chairs flanks the Milo Baughman burl wood coffee table layered with interior design books, a baby alligator head from Key West, and tropical fronds in a green copper vase.

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“It’s my little marble palace,” O’Neill jokes of the floor-to-ceiling marble bathroom which faces the prodigious shoe and handbag closet lit in the hallway by Charlotte Perriand’s iconic wall sconces. There was a walk-in closet, but O’Neill, ever the design perfectionist, got rid of it so that the doors of the apartment would line up on a single axis.

The petite bedroom is made to feel bigger by the windows, the built-in cubbies above the bed, and the bookshelves that form an alcove around the bed, hosting everything from The Wizard of Oz to Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, her current read. “It’s small but it gets so much light,” she says. The wooden shutters give the bedroom a European air, as do the antique trinkets gleaned over many years of visiting the Paris and London flea markets. “I always pick up a little something from my travels,” she says, lifting a bronze candlestick from Paris: “I call it my 18th-century flashlight.”

The brick terrace has recently received some needed love and care, just in time for winter hibernation. O’Neill added a lattice border and 18-inch trellis, as well as a Serena & Lily wicker bench and Sicilian ceramic head, picked up during her sister’s Positano wedding in 2016, to keep her fig tree company. “Look, it’s producing its second crop!” she says proudly, holding the ostiole of a fig in her palm. “The second I stopped taking care of them, they started doing better,” she says of her trees.

She does take care of her flowers though. O’Neill makes a weekly pilgrimage up to the 28th Street flower market. Her favorite, Dutch Flower Line, is so beloved that she recently hosted a Markarian dinner there for Fashion Week. “I love it. I’ll usually do giant green palms here,” she flits her finger around the living room, “and then branches in the kitchen slash hallway, and little flowers everywhere else. That’s always my pop of color — the clothing on the racks also helps!”

(Beniamin “Benik” Egishevitch Markarian (ArmenianԲենիամին Եղիշեի Մարգարյան; born 29 November 1913 in ShulaverTiflis Governorate; died 29 September 1985 in YerevanArmenian SSR) was an Armenian astrophysicistMarkarian’s Chain (of galaxies) was named after him when he discovered that this string of galaxies moves with a common motion. He is also the namesake of a catalog of compact, optically bright galaxies (including both starbursts and AGNs) known as Markarian galaxies.)

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