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Have you ever perused Vivre’s website or catalog and not encountered a dozen extraordinary items you didn’t know you needed? Neither have we. That’s because founder Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti has an expert eye for bona fide treasures. We’re talking malachite cuffs, crocodile hobos and Emu-feathered evening bags –just to name a few gems from her wildly successful retail empire. The Swiss-born beauty has spent the last decade traveling the globe for one-of-a-kind fashions (many of which end up in her own magnificent closet). No wonder Project Accessory – the Project Runway spin-off now airing on Lifetime –tapped the Swiss-born beauty to star as mentor to the cast of designer hopefuls. We're already hooked!
Here, the tastemaker gives us a glimpse inside her Manhattan closet, walks us through her collections, and reveals her must-have shoes for fall.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think of style like architecture, so I would say my personal style is quite streamlined and classic, and then I like to embellish with accessories. I really believe in great lines in clothing. I also believe that if you want to make one thing great, [you can] kind of work around that. I’m a collector and I love accessories, so I think ‘how am I going to accessorize this look?’ I think it’s the same thing in a home – you know, if you have great bones, you can do anything with it.
What are your favorite things to collect?
Oh my god, that’s a crazy question! I’m a big collector of accessories more than clothing. I have the pieces I can’t live without: my perfect black pants, a great navy blue blazer, a poplin white shirt, straight-line skirts. But the pieces that I love I guess will always more sort of statement pieces. I’m a huge collector of vintage, period, and modern jewelry. I’m crazy about belts – old belts, new belts, vintage belts, modern belts. I love shoes. I love handbags. I have a big collection of handbags that I’ve been collecting over the years. I’m a big fan of leather – I think great leather pieces can really change a look very quickly. I collect scarves –crazy scarves – and sort of capelet-type things. A lot of fur – I love fur pieces. And then I like jean jackets that are old and embellished. So, I like things that can create a look.
What piece would you rush in to save in the event of a fire?
Just one thing?! There isn’t just one thing. I have like four or five things that are my go-to pieces. I have these shoes that I bought a few years ago that I absolutely love – they’re strappy with studs on them. They just go with everything; I could be wearing the simplest thing and they work. I have a suede skirt that I love. I have a black hat that I can’t live without. But those aren’t the things I’d try to save. I’d probably take my whole entire case of jewelry that I have in my closet.
Given your penchant for statement accessories, it sounds like our Travel Jewelry Case would be up to the challenge!
I love it because you don’t have to be a minimalist while you travel. It’s perfect for the jet-setter who would rather be spontaneous than plan out every detail of their trip. This woman can go salsa dancing on a moment’s notice, and have all the jewelry she could possibly choose from conveniently packed in the jewelry case.
What recent purchases are you most excited about for fall?
I just bought a pair of shoes from Celine that I think are really fantastic. They’re very simple, a Bordeaux color, with just a suede strap, and they’re very high. And I’ve got a couple of fur pieces that I’m really excited about.
Your closet is gorgeous. What was your goal when you designed it?
Well, I wanted it to feel like a room; I didn’t want it to feel like a closet. I like to be organized, so I wanted something that could organize all my things and fit [them] without being overwhelming. There are all of these sort of hidden areas. All along the bottom, I have big drawers that are really wide, and they’re all filled with evening bags and handbags. Because they’re so deep, you can really put a lot of things in them in an organized way. I tend to treat [my closet] like a library, making sure the clothes are really encased in it, and that they’re not sticking out. I just feel like I don’t have enough room though! [Our skinny Signature Hangers are a great way to save space in your closet.]
How do keep your ever-growing collections under control?
I don’t know. I don’t know! I have a room downstairs where I switch my closet [for the seasons]. [But] I just find myself having this eye for collecting. It’s an ongoing joke where my husband says, ‘well, do you need it?’ And I say, 'it’s not about need –it’s about want!’. But, you know, I can go for months without getting anything, and then just sort of go crazy because there’s something that I have to get. It’s rarely because I need it. I rarely go shopping because I need to go shopping. It’s also always about the find. Sometimes I’ll buy something, and I won’t wear it for months. Today I’m actually wearing this necklace that I bought at this tiny little store in the middle of the South of France. I had forgotten about it, and today I woke up and was like, where’s that necklace?
Do you ever edit your wardrobe?
When it comes to clothing, I do edit. I’ve given a lot of things away over the years. But I think I’m at the point now where I don’t have that much more editing to do, because the pieces I’ve kept, I want to keep them. It’s really funny – the other day I wore a dress that I had actually gotten for my engagement, which was 17 years ago. And it was probably as good, today, as years ago when I bought it. I don’t have that many pieces like that, but I think that when something’s really great, it’s always going to be great. And so at this point, it’s just about finding a way to keep them, but also to wear them. You know, you go through phases where sometimes you wear things, and sometimes you bring things back. Sometimes you’re bored of your closet. I get bored of my closet sometimes, because I’m not in the mood to play with it.
So whose closet would be the ultimate ‘raid’?
There are probably quite a few closets I would want to raid! I think Jackie O’s closet would have been pretty cool to raid because she had a very elegant style, and I’m sure she had great pieces. I think Nan Kempner’s closet would have been really great, because I loved her elegance and find her style so interesting. I’m sure she has some amazing pieces. Also, Elsa Schiaparelli. It sort of breaks it up between the collectors, and people who have what I would consider distinguished style.