Designer found dead in Soho House hotel room

The boyfriend of a fashion designer found dead in a bathtub at New York's Soho House hotel was being questioned by police yesterday.

Nicholas Brooks, the son of "You Light Up My Life" songwriter Joseph Brooks, has been in custody since the body of Sylvie Cachay, was discovered at about 3.30am on Thursday at Soho House. Investigators were seeking a search warrant to look for traces of DNA, skin under his fingernails, and any possible signs of struggle or trauma, said Chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

Mr Brooks, 24, has not been charged with a crime. He was apparently speaking with an attorney, but police said they did not know the lawyer's name.

Ms Cachay, 33, wearing a black top and underwear, was found in the oval tub, face-up, after hotel staff noticed the ceiling below her room was leaking. Investigators said she had some red marks around her neck and a bite mark on her hand. A bottle of prescription pills was found in the room, but no illegal drugs were found.

Ms Cachay lived in an apartment in Manhattan's West Village, but had a membership to the exclusive offshoot of the original London private members' club. That meant she had access to the rooftop pool, where Sex and the City episodes were filmed, and was able to rent one of the 24 guest rooms at a discount. The hotel has hosted Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.

The medical examiner's office said yesterday that toxicology tests were being performed on the body after an initial autopsy was unable to conclusively pinpoint the cause of death. Such tests typically take days.

Mr Browne said there had been a small bedroom fire sparked by a candle at her apartment earlier in the week, and that may have led her to stay at the Soho House.

Ms Cachay and Mr Brooks had been dating about six months, and investigators said some of her friends told them he was erratic. Ms Cachay grew up with dual citizenship, splitting her time between Peru and Virginia. She graduated from Marymount College with a degree in design.

She interned at Marc Jacobs and worked for Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria's Secret. She left the lingerie empire in 2006 to start her own collection, but had been working at fashion houses again after the economy tanked and she lost her backing. Her former publicist called her the "darling of the swimsuit world".

Mr Brooks' Academy Award-winning father is awaiting trial in an unrelated case. The 72-year-old was accused of raping 11 women he lured to his apartment with the promise of a starring role in a movie. He has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges and has been freed on bail.

He won the Oscar for best original song for the 1977 ballad "You Light Up My Life" for the soundtrack of the film of the same name. He also wrote and directed the movie about a comedian who has a one-night stand with a director.

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