Photography by Adam Cantor

Claire Distenfeld

Owner, Fivestory

| Greenwich Village

Fitted knit turtlenecks, iridescent rose gold pumps and evening clutches disguised as classic story book covers were just a few of the things that caught our attention on our most recent trip to Fivestory. Often referred to as New York’s counterpart to Paris’ famed Colette, the multi-level-townhouse-turned-luxury-boutique may be the chicest shop in the city, stocking superlative pieces from elite brands like Balmain, Chloé and Calvin Klein, alongside a carefully curated selection of up-and-coming designers like Anthony Vacarello, Mary Katrantzou and Rauwolf. Behind the stellar line-up is 27-year-old Claire Distenfeld, whose background in the art world goes hand-in-hand with her store’s gallery-like approach (she interned for photographer Sante D’Orazio after earning her master’s degree in contemporary art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art before opening her storefront). Now, with a cultivated eye and exceptional taste, Distenfeld brings the best of international fashion to NYC’s Upper East Side (giving downtown cool girls just one more reason to travel above 14th Street). Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I am a restauranteur’s dream— I’m loyal, consistent and really into food. I love Le Charlot (MAP IT, x) for the cajun mahi mahi, The Bowery Hotel (MAP IT, x) for their artichoke salad and Blue Ribbon Sushi (MAP IT, x) for everything and anything raw fish and seaweed.

COFFEE OR TEA: Both kind of. I was a huge coffee drinker and loved Bel Ami (MAP IT, x) because it’s the strongest cup in the game, but now, I’m a tea lady. The best cup in the city is Harney & Sons‘ (MAP IT, x) matcha tea.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: It was Gino’s (R.I.P.), but now I’d have to say Altesi Ristorante on the Upper East Side (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). I love the owner and the menu, and they have the best wine menu in town. Ideal meal: the kale caesar, salmon carpaccio, branzino with a side of rosemary potatoes and garlic broccoli rabe and chocolate cake for dessert!

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Casa Dragones on the rocks at the lobby bar inside The Bowery Hotel. I’m currently trying to revive Temple Bar on Lafayette Street (MAP IT, x). I renamed it “Iguana Bar” because it has a lizard outside with no other signage. Inside, it’s warm and cozy, yet old school and traditional.

GIRLS NIGHT OUT: Acme (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x), Boom Boom Room (MAP IT, x)… maybe my living room?

MUSIC PICK: I like all kinds of music— electronic, Rihanna, folk… If it has a good beat, I’ll probably enjoy it. Paul’s Baby Grand (MAP IT, x) has pretty good music, but personally, I like my own Spotify playlists.

BEST BRUNCH: Jack’s Wife Freda (MAP ITx). It’s the perfect balance of comfort food and health food. For every healthy thing on the menu, there’s a way to cheat and add french fries to it. The owners are also the greatest human beings on the planet.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Juice Press (MAP IT, x) for the kelp noodles, Gravity juice and their Gladiator cookies.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Russ and Daughters (MAP IT, x) for bagels (yes, multiple), smoked fish platter for two (but it’s obviously not getting near anyone else) and chocolate rugelach for dessert.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The ski chalet bar behind Café Select (MAP IT, x). It’s my hideaway place for a drink.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: 24 hour everything.

REGULAR AT: I’m a creature of habit. I work out at Punch Fitness (MAP IT, x). I eat at Blue Ribbon Sushi, Il Cantinori (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x), Milos (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) and Omar’s (MAP IT, x). I love Creel and Gow (MAP IT, x) for discovering new things and Flair (MAP IT, x) for home furnishings. My tip is to never take the same way home; I always walk new blocks to try and discover new places. I was walking around the other day and passed by this place Bar Cyrk (MAP IT, x) which looked adorable. It has a wood burning pizza oven at the bar… my ultimate heaven!

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Quiet dinners at I Sodi (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x), The Library at the Public Theater (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) or Bohemian on Great Jones Street (MAP IT, x), followed by a drink somewhere cozy.

DELIVERY GO-TO: Two words: Post Mates. Endless possibilities.

CLOSET CHECK: My style is balanced. There’s never too much of any one thing. This season, I’m into suits, mini skirts with matching blazers and turtlenecks and camel, cashmere Max Mara-esque pantsuits. In the store, I’m loving this J. W. Anderson off-the-shoulder forest green dress, a racing stripe gown from Rosie Assoulin and all the TSE cashmere.

ACCESSORIES PICK: I’m a jewelry girl for sure. I always wear my Khai Khai rainbow stack rings, a Lynn Ban ring and my Noor Fares wing earrings.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Fivestory (MAP IT, x). We have an amazing home collection.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: For make-up, I have two go-to’s: Dana Rae (x[email protected]) and Anita (C: 646.734.8001) They come to your house and make you feel beautiful! Also, I see Chris Lospalutto (x) at Sharon Dorram at Sally Hershberger (MAP IT, x) for color.

FIT PICK: Punch is my only work-out. Twice a week, it gets the job done.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: In a nutshell, it was 12:30 am, I was leaving a dinner party, lost my phone, got drinks at the Mercer lobby to not have to think about losing my phone, met Kanye West, decided to go to the 24-hour Apple store at 3 am to get a new phone, arrived at Apple in black tie, then headed downtown around 4:30 am in a full blizzard only to fall into bed. CP

Claire’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Flair New York home décor; Shoe from Fivestory; Spread at Jack’s Wife Freda; Inside Russ & Daughters. Second Row: Harney & Sons tea; Inside Fivestory; Bread at I Sodi; Acme.


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