Photography by Colby Blount

Mary Alice Stephenson

Style & Beauty Expert | Founder, Glam4Good

| Cobble Hill

Remember the first time someone told to follow your dreams so you moved to New York City all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to get the crap kicked out of you and the wind blown out of your sails? All of a sudden, your life’s mantra went from Sinatra’s “New York, New York” to Didion’s Goodbye to All That and Friday nights spent traipsing around downtown turned into late-night Expedia sessions trying to “get the hell out of here.” If you’re thinking, “You get me,” we’d like to remind you of a certain fashion gal by the name of Mary-Alice Stephenson, a native Michigander who, with no connections and at the age of 15, declared she’d be Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar one day and 20-odd years later, she made it so. A veritable fashion fairy tale, Stephenson moved to the Big Apple and soon after became an Assistant Editor at Vogue— her first shoot was with Irving Penn, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell (talk about hitting the jackpot)— and between high-profile stints at Marie Claire, Allure and her childhood dream job at Bazaar, she’s worked alongside everyone from Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh and Patrick Demarchelier to Gisele Bundchen and Karolina Kurkova. Though she’s since part ways with Bazaar, Stephenson wears as many fashionable hats now as ever: she runs her own business (consisting of everything from styling shoots to advocating for brands), regularly lends her voice to networks like CNN and E! and yet still finds time to pay it forward— as the founder of GLAM4GOOD, a city-based organization focused on style as a means for positive social change, she provides life-changing makeovers and transformative fashion experiences for at-risk teens, veterans and others in need. Long story short: dreams really can come true. (Though we’re pretty sure a little thing called “good ol’ fashioned hard work” came into play here too.) Here, Stephenson sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Watty & Meg (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). I love their quinoa and kale salad when I’m in a vegetarian mood and the hanger steak frites when I’m not.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Café Pedlar (*Location now closed) because the ambiance is as good as the coffee. There are fresh flowers, fresh pastries and the benches outside provide the perfect perch to people watch.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A glass of wine from June Wine Bar (MAP IT, x), my new obsession. It’s a natural wine bar with super yummy food in a dark, sexy, small space.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: Threes Brewing (MAP IT, x) has the best beer and some of Brooklyn’s hottest foodie joints taking residency each month. The garden in the back is a perfect gathering place.

WHERE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWNERS: My favorite borough, Brooklyn!

BEST BRUNCH: Allswell in Williamsburg (MAP IT, x) has a menu that changes daily and it is perfect for brunch. Go on their Tumblr to find out what they are serving that day! I love how they always change it up.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: A day rollerskating, kayaking, running or just laying in the grass at the Brooklyn Bridge Park (MAP IT, x). It shows you just how diverse and magnificent our city is!

HEALTHY STAPLE: Nectar (MAP IT, x). I could eat their avocado wrap every day!

GUILTY PLEASURE: Butter & Scotch (MAP IT, x) is a Brooklyn cocktail bar that specializes in dessert. That is my guilty pleasure… and Kiki de Montparnasse.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: My passionate, smart, hard-working, dedicated, fearless make-it-happen friends.

REGULAR AT: Pure Barre in Cobble Hill (MAP IT, x). When I’m on a roll, I go 3 times-a-week. The results keep me coming back (i.e. strong, slim thighs and a sexy backside)!

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Clover Club (MAP IT, x). I like the cozy, hidden room in the back of the restaurant.  There is a fantastic fireplace, a chic oak bar and a fabulous chandelier. It’s very romantic and special.

KID-FRIENDLY STAPLE: Moo Burger (MAP IT, x). My son and I go at least once a week. It’s now a family tradition. Great food, an awesome wait staff and it’s super kid-friendly— that’s a perfect combo in my Mommy book!

CLOSET CHECK: I love powerful, sexy clothes that are modern, yet glamorous. New York Vintage (MAP IT, x) and Albright Fashion Library (MAP IT, x) are my go-to boutiques for special, hard-to-find pieces. Zoe has it all— exquisite pieces from Givenchy, Balmain, Proenza Schouler and Céline. I am obsessed with their accessories and shoe collections too. It’s like having my own personal stylist living right next door.  I shop the website before every fashion week and always find the perfect outfit for every big moment in my life. The sales are great too.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is graphic, sexy, bold and sleek. I can’t get enough of Roll & Hill (MAP IT, x), the Brooklyn-based lighting gurus. My brownstone is filled with their unique, edgy lights and I love that their studio is right here in my ‘hood. Find Home Furnishings is a huge warehouse of hard-to-find pieces right off the Gowanus Canal (MAP IT, x). It’s a fun adventure for anyone searching for unique pieces from all over the world and for half the price. 

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Burlap— it’s a hidden gem tucked in Cobble Hill (MAP IT, x) and a highly curated, one-stop-shop for divine gifts that work for anyone on your list. From kitchenware to lingerie, everything is gorgeous!

FOR THE KIDS: Junior Lowe (MAP IT, x) is one of the best kids clothing boutiques in New York and it’s right here in Cobble Hill. 

FOR HIM: Goose Barnacle (MAP IT, x) is the coolest men’s clothing shop in New York. I love it so much that when I shop there for the men in my life, I always walk away with something stylish for me too. Their chic hats, fragrances, totes and tunics are made for a man, but still super sexy for us girls! 

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Shen Beauty is a world-renown beauty boutique in Carroll Gardens (MAP IT, x); it has the hottest niche, organic and hard-to-find products in the world. 

FIT PICK: I like to change it up but my usual routine consists of yoga, barre class and walking. Kelly Morris is my yoga and meditation guru (MAP IT, x). She does great privates and I follow her on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration. She has a cool new site where you can book her directly too: www.findyourinfinity.com

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: For the last two years, my organization GLAM4GOOD has partnered with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute to dress 70 teens from shelters and non-profits in New York City for their high school proms. After giving the girls a tour of the Costume Institute, we lead them into a big room at the Met and surprise them with a prom-inspired shopping spree for free– we style the girls head-to-two into the prom queens they deserve to be! Many of the girls cry as they pick their gowns and accessories which is very moving, but for me, it was when we led all the girls outside to the steps of the Met for a picture that I experienced one of life’s ultimate moments: I was standing with the gorgeous prom queens beaming with happiness when all of a sudden they broke into song. They started singing “I Am Beautiful” a cappella with so much joy that it immediately brought me to tears. Hundreds of people began to surround the girls to cheer them on. It was a perfect moment…one of grace, gratitude and love, right there on Fifth Avenue in my beautiful city where dreams do come true.  CP

Mary-Alice’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Roll & Hill décor; Menswear at Goose Barnacle; Cockles from Allswell; Inside Threes Brewing. Second Row: Stephenson at home; Inside June Wine Bar; Kiki de Montparnasse lingerie; Stephenson in Africa.

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