Katherine Petitti Kornel welcomes a pair of visitors to her Bedford Hills home, a short tour of the gracious surroundings she decorated herself making its way to the top floor.
“The studio has changed, from painting and design to … you’ll see,” she says, passing by an eclectic mix of paintings, both her own work and that by others. She’ll pause to tell the story behind a particular work or share details of a treasure brought home from worldwide travels or a savvy flea-market find.
It all ends at the most fashionable of temporary offices, where French fashion and luxe design magazines are spread out near a charmingly vintage apothecary cabinet, all beneath a series of glittering chandeliers.
With core staff members on hand, Kornel is in the midst of a flurry of fashionable activities as she officially launches her latest endeavor, the Luxury Consignment Boutique.
What had long been the headquarters for Kornel’s fine art, interior design and more recently, fashion-styling businesses is now all about Gucci bags, Celine bracelets, Chanel shoes and a dazzling display of additional luxury goods she, as president and CEO, has begun selling online.
The office, which transitions into official headquarters in Katonah, is simply the latest step in the ever-evolving world of Kornel.
A woman who spent more than a dozen years in international business development in the cosmetics and fragrance industries went on to fashion a career path that has its roots firmly planted in all things artistic.
“It started off as one thing and spiraled,” she says with a laugh.
But art, indeed, is a powerful undercurrent to the way Kornel has carved out her work life.
“Fashion is a part of interior design,” she says. “It’s a part of painting.”
She likes to call it all part of a “trickle-down theory.”
That has found Kornel working in recent years as an exhibiting painter, an interior designer of both residential and commercial spaces and most recently, a consultant who designs fashion shows and trend forecasts for Neiman Marcus while also helping celebrity and business clients dress their best.
This latest incarnation got its start very close to home, drawing inspiration from Kornel’s daughters, ages 18 and 15.
It all was sparked by clothing the young ladies weren’t wearing, namely expensive jeans with their price tags still on.
“The bottom line is it’s waste,” Kornel says. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s waste.”
Now, who among us doesn’t have something with its price tag still on as it sits month after month in the closet?
“Other people might have a Chanel bag they’re not using, or whatever the brand is,” Kornel says.
And that made her think, “There’s a business out there.”
She took the idea – which she likens to luxury recycling – and has spent the last year or so in development.
She sees her company as a unique creation that echoes some of online shopping’s most successful – and streamlined – destinations.
“It’s a combination of 1stdibs, One Kings Lane and The RealReal but not big like any of these, the boutiquey version.”
And that’s where it will stand out, as Alyssa Van Asselt says.
“I think we have such an interesting niche,” says Van Asselt, the Luxury Consignment Boutique’s vice president of marketing and design. “We have a lot of luxury goods, but we offer a lot of personal services.”
Indeed, the company will expand on Kornel’s thriving fashion-stylist business to offer clients closet editing and personal shopping. Luxury Consignment Boutique, part of the No Guilt Group, will also see clients in person, by appointment, and looks forward to being a source for parties, especially those designed to benefit charity.
After all, philanthropy has long been a part of Kornel’s way of life.
Her charitable efforts have ranged from work for Green Chimneys to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital to the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross. She has donated paintings to the Northern Westchester Hospital Center, as well.
Currently, she is working with handcrafted bracelets from Panama. Sales will help support local artisans.
“There are so many things that can be done,” Kornel says. “Whether it’s one charity or another, I’m happy to do it. It’s good to give.”
She has found her past experiences, everything from being involved in the development of Kate Spade’s fragrance to extensive work in the duty-free marketplace, adding to her expertise.
Kornel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Michigan State University, would go on to work on the international front for companies ranging from Elizabeth Arden to Guerlain to Givaudan, a fragrance-development firm.
“That gave me such a knowledge of international business,” says Kornel, who has lived in Paris and Spain and is fluent in both French and Spanish.
Again, it all came together as one experience led to the next to … Luxury Consignment Boutique.
“It was funny because I do have the background,” she says, noting her company has already attracted clients from Korea, Brazil and for its first sale, Greece. She talks proudly of that sale, to a woman who kept Kornel up most of one night with questions. In the end, Kornel says, it was worth it – and made her think she’s really onto something.
“She loved her shoes,” she says. “She paid $200 shipping because she wanted them immediately.”
Consignments come from a variety of sources, with Kornel’s well-developed network again coming into play to allow her to sell brands ranging from Hermès to Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin to Yves Saint Laurent, 7 For All Mankind to Louis Vuitton.
Trust is key, she adds.
“I will not ever sell a fake.”
And the company’s reach will eventually be broad, Kornel says, extending to home furnishings and decorative accessories to fine jewelry.
“I have access to pearls, diamonds.”
The difference, she says, is the way it all comes together. She is a curator of sorts.
“It’s virtual personal shopping.”
Though her artwork is officially on hiatus, it’s never far from her thoughts. Kornel is asking her first hundred clients to snap photographs of themselves with their purchases – a handbag slipped over an arm or perhaps a stiletto-clad foot taking a statement-making step. She will incorporate those isolated images into a collage that will then be presented to clients to celebrate the successful launch.
For Kornel, it’s always in the details, from the silhouette of a dress to the sparkle of a piece of jewelry. She might, for example, compliment someone’s earrings, truly interested in their origin.
“I’m always on the prowl,” she says with a smile.
It all comes down to enjoying the beauty in life. When she was giving a “Kat’s Eye” trend-forecasting presentation and fashion show at Neiman Marcus once, Kornel had the following advice for those in attendance:
“Go back to your earlier days, when you were playing dress-up. That’s what this is. Have fun.”
Fashion, she says, “can be intimidating. It shouldn’t be.”
And no matter the outlet her creativity finds, there seems to be a powerful – and rewarding – common thread.
As Kornel says, “It’s all a form of art for me … everything artistic.”
For more details, visit luxuryconsignment.com or call (855) 604-8458.
Katherine Petitti Kornel
again taps artistry for latest endeavor