With her new UES boutique Fivestory, Claire Distenfeld channels Paris’s perennial shopping hot spot. Here are her spring picks.
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New York’s most inspired new boutique came to be not out of passion or a dream but, ironically, boredom. Following a five-year stint in the art world, Manhattan native Claire Distenfeld walked the city’s streets for three months contemplating her next move. And that’s when she realized she was bored by the retail landscape.
“I was reflecting and walking around, and it hit me then that there was nothing inspiring me,” says Distenfeld. “Shops like Colette in Paris or Maxfield in Los Angeles are constantly changing and evoking a more emotional experience than the classic boutique. I thought, How could we be in the most important city in the world and lack this type of store?”
So Distenfeld partnered with her father in creating the kind of retail experience she felt New York lacked. The result: Fivestory, two airy floors of an Upper East Side townhouse that feature a carefully curated assortment of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, jewelry, and home items by a roster of exclusive designers you may or may not know.
For the most part, Distenfeld eschewed big brand names offered down the street at Barneys or Bergdorf in favor of edgier, under-the-radar labels she handpicked, such as jewelers Jessica Robinson and Daniela Villegas and apparel designers Roberta Furlanetto and Vika Gazinskaya. Her men’s section, produced in partnership with Chris Gibbs, of Union Los Angeles, features brands not available in the U.S., like Sacai. Items at Fivestory range from $25 for a Keith Haring tin of chocolates to one-of-a-kind fine jewelry pieces for $50,000.
Though she had trouble choosing just five, Distenfeld scoured Fivestory’s racks and shelves to share her favorite items for spring.
Saint Louis crystal glasses
“Saint Louis has been around since the 1500s, and yet these crystal glasses and goblets are so modern and vivid. A younger client can come in and buy just one, or a more established client could buy them all.” From $480
Vika Gazinskaya dresses
“She’s this supertalented young designer from Moscow doing incredible high-end pieces. Each of her dresses really is one-of-a-kind, because she’ll draw on them and make each one so different.” From $1,400
Sacai Men’s Cardigans
“I love the attention to detail. They’re unique, yet the language is the same for someone who appreciates a classic cashmere cardigan. But this will push him a bit.” $680
Nike for Liberty of London high-top sneakers
“I saw this sneaker and needed it, so I called Nike every day until they promised me 10 pairs. I love the authenticity of Nike. It’s unpretentious and yet superstylish.” $130
“This is exclusive to us. I make people try on this necklace even when they don’t want to or have no intention of buying it.” $1,205