It’s a late-summer morning in New York, and designer Ana Beatriz Lerario is giving a tour of her two-bedroom apartment inside a Financial District high-rise. Against one wall is a World Cup pinball machine, and next to that sits an eggplant Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen. A few steps further, a small chicken sculpture stands guard in a corner, while bunches of carved wooden bananas are nestled under a nearby side table. The eclectic modern-meets-magpie decor is a marriage, explains Lerario, of her Brazilian heritage and her husband’s German roots. The lush greenery and flea market finds are hers; the Andy Warhol portrait and Erik Offermann and Christo and Jeanne-Claude paintings, his. “That’s Robbie’s mom, Katharina,” she remarks of the blue-eyed blond in the first, which is one from the quartet of works Warhol did of the family; the other three are of Katharina’s children.
The Robbie in question is Lerario’s husband, men’s wear designer Robert Geller, who bounces into the apartment late from his tennis practice. “Did I miss anything? I was going to bring flowers,” he says, laughing, before slipping away for a shower. Geller is this year’s GQ/CFDA Best New Menswear Designer in America, as well as a recent CFDA Swarovski Award nominee. Lerario, meanwhile, launched her women’s wear line, Lerario Beatriz, in 2005 and is founder of the downtown showroom Fiftytwo, which reps such labels as Rosa Cha, Kaylee Tankus and Suzie Wong. Although fashion couples aren’t unheard of—husband-and-wife teams are installed at Helmut Lang, Roberto Cavalli and others—a duo helming two different collections is less common. And that’s just one reason Lerario and Geller’s partnership is unique. “Ana and Robbie have this really genuinely beautiful relationship,” says Richard Chai, a close friend. “I think they were destined to find each other. I really believe that.”
Indeed, happenstance was key in how they met, as was Marc Jacobs, who was the unwitting matchmaker. Lerario was working under Chai, then design director at Marc Jacobs, and Geller was her intern. (But this is no fashion cougar situation; at 33, Geller is six months older than Lerario.) “I remember being introduced to her and being, like, wow,” says the Rhode Island School of Design grad. “She thought I was gay.” Lerario, as soft-spoken as her husband, pipes up in her own defense. “He had this Gucci leather jacket he wore all the time,” she remarks. “He was really fashiony and came to a dinner with a gay friend. I thought they were a couple.”
Yet whatever sparks flew, they didn’t fully ignite until years later. After his internship, Geller joined men’s label Cloak with Alexandre Plokhov, in 2002. (Geller launched his namesake line in 2006.) Chai, meanwhile, left Jacobs for TSE, took Lerario with him and named her head of the firm’s secondary line, Tsesay. Then kismet finally came calling: Geller and Lerario bumped into each other during a lunch break at Chelsea Market. One thing led to another and, after a flirtatious friendship, the two were married in her native Brazil in 2008. She wore a custom silk and lace gown by Chai. “It was a huge honor but a big stress,” Chai says of making her dress. “He’s a designer; she’s a designer. In a weird way, I would say it’s more stressful than doing a show.” The groom, for the record, wore Yves Saint Laurent. “I thought about making my own tux,” Geller says, “but I wanted to get that experience of being pampered. If you do it yourself, it loses a bit of that romance, you know?”