“I thought I was just going to be a shopper for the rest of my life,” Claire Distenfeld said, sitting on a greyish green velvet couch on the second story of her new store, Five Story, last night. Though housed in a five story townhouse on the Upper East Side, the concept store only takes up two and a half, each one stuffed full of hard-to-find brands like Olympia Le Tan and Vika Gazinskaya or Aperlai and Chrissie Morris with some Carven and Lyn Devon mixed in.
Distenfeld, who was a gallerist until she changed her mind, said she decided to jump into retail when she got bored with New York’s offerings. “Nothing was getting me out there. I was like, ‘Omg I’m becoming that online shopper that I hate only because there’s nothing luring me in.’” So, with the help of her dad, she decided to open a boutique. They spotted the building on 69th Street and found a way to make it their own, even though it was being sold as a residence. From there, Distenfeld, 26, hired interior designer to the fashion stars, Ryan Korban, and started culling pieces from her favorite designers. “It’s amazing to go touch Balmain and be there—and we will buy it and we’ll buy it differently than everybody else—but the young designers are just always really fun to work with,” she says. “Young designers are what fuel me.”
As if to prove her passion for fresh, relatively undiscovered names, Distenfeld picked a Vika Gazinskaya jumpsuit to wear to last night’s party at Mr. Chow—”Like, do I really want to wear black? But it made me feel so good!”—calling the Russian designer “the first in a really long time [who is] has a really cool balance between aesthetics and innovation, but then always makes a woman feel pretty.”
And if you’re wondering why Distenfeld and her dad decided to stick with the doubled name, it refers to more than just the physical levels: “After spending time with the name it became so apparent how relevant it was, the idea of storytelling and history and the building’s history, my history with my dad, how every brand has a history…the name is really loaded.”
Five Story opens today at 18 East 69th Street.