Markarian's Alexandra O'Neill and interior designer CeCe Barfield Thompson, both wearing a dress O'Neill designed inspired by Christie's upcoming Interiors auction.
Photo: Christie’s LTD 2019

Bergdorf Goodman Debuts Exclusive Line Inspired by a Christie’s Interiors Auction

Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill and interior designer CeCe Barfield create beautiful pieces that take cues from ravishing antiques
Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill and interior designer CeCe Barfield Thompson. Photo: Christie’s LTD 2019

Among the 495 lots coming to the block at this month’s Christie’s Interiors auction are early-1900s glassware by Tiffany Studios, artworks by Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Natkin, and a circa-1964 George Nakashima pedestal desk. But on display at the August 16–20 preview are a pair of capsule collections that are decidedly more modern.

Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill—whose stunning dresses and gowns have been seen on Priyanka Chopra, Felicity Jones, and Kate Hudson—and interior designer CeCe Barfield Thompson, a former senior designer for the legendary Bunny Williams, were given early access to source inspiration for new pieces they created to be sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman, beginning August 12.

“When CeCe and I walked the Christie’s warehouse, we were both immediately drawn to the same pieces for inspiration,” says O’Neill, who created the intricate embroidery on a dress based the traditional Indian floral motif found on a pair of recamiers. The same fabric also inspired the painted border on a set of dinner plates and the etching on silver-plate cups designed by Barfield Thompson.

Tabletop pieces designed by CeCe Barfield Thompson that were inspired by items in Christie’s upcoming Interiors auction. Photo: Christie’s LTD 2019

“This is as classic as you get in an Indian floral; it’s been reinterpreted by designers for centuries, and it’s so fresh every time,” says Barfield Thompson of the pattern. In another moment of synchronicity, the motif on a Parisian porcelain urn was reimagined by O’Neill as a shimmery embroidery on rich velvet for a dress, then translated into scalloped table linens by Barfield Thompson.

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The two creatives, best friends since their days studying art history at New York University, envision their separate lines as companions that together make up the ultimate environment for a discerning hostess. “The idea is you have this perfect ensemble. I dream of living my life in a modern way that’s also rooted in traditional hospitality of receiving people at home and having the dress that coordinates with the tabletop and the linens,” says Barfield Thompson. “Hopefully we’re making that appealing to a new generation.”

The fabric of this recamier inspired embroidery O’Neill’s Markarian dresses, and the linens designed by Barfield Thomspon. Photo: Christie’s LTD 2019

While this is their first formal collaboration, their influence on each other’s work runs deep—from O’Neill creating Barfield Thompson’s bridesmaid dresses to the interior designer decorating the fashion designer’s office. “There’s never been a formal client relationship,” says Barfield Thompson, whose pieces for this capsule collection also mark her first official product line. (O’Neill is working on a hat collection with accessories designer Gigi Burris for next spring.) “We’re best friends, so we always help each other out. There’s a constant dialogue.”

To help illustrate the cross currents of the auction (which will take place August 21–22) and the capsule collections, the designers built several vignettes at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries using auction items as well as the new home goods and fashions. “Christie’s wanted us to show how a new generation can interpret antiques and live with them in a way that is modern,” says Barfield Thompson. “We picked a very monotone palette for the walls and the curtains. Streamlining the background allowed the antiques to come forward and really pop so they felt bold and sculptural.”

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