'Fivestory happened out of nowhere. The million-dollar question is, ‘Did you dream this your whole life?’ and it’s like, ‘No, not even a little bit.’ I actually worked in art for six years. I had this whole adventure paved for myself, and I got to the end where I was supposed to be exuding happiness, and I kept waking up asking myself, 'Where’s the happiness at? Why isn’t it coming?’ It just didn’t feel right. I was 24 and said to myself, ‘If you’re not waking up everyday at 24 and feeling like you're moving in the right direction, then you’re in the wrong place.’ So I left the art world on like a soul-searching kind of thing. As I was exploring the city, I kind of just got really bored. I wanted somewhere to go where I could look at new things. Walking to stores was very calculated. I made this very superficial observation during this time that there’s no seating areas in New York retail—if there was a chair, it was in an awkward environment. It's almost like they don’t want you to sit. They want you to go in there, be there with something you saw on Instagram or in a magazine, and know what you want. I started to realize that experiences happen outside the store, but in my eyes, the experience should start in the store. You should see something and think, ‘Oh my god. I’m going to wear this tonight, and this is what’s going to happen.' And I realized that if something doesn't exist in New York, you have to make it exist—because if you don't, someone else is going to do it. I was like, ‘Alright, what happens when I fail? I’ll be 25, dust myself off, and try something new.’ And once I wasn’t scared of the fall, I said, 'Let’s just do it'—this month makes three years since I've opened the store.
Working at Fivestory is a 24-hour job, but when I do go out, I love sitting in the back of the Bowery Hotel Lobby Bar. You can drink and drink, and all of a sudden, I’m in a mood for pizza and it's accessible. To start there would be great, then these days I’ve been going to Paul’s Baby Grand every single weekend. The thing about me is that I only go places where everybody knows your name. I’m a Cheers mentality kind of person. I like to dance. Happy Ending on the Lower East Side in New York is fun. It’s dancey but really grungy, so the opposite of Paul’s. I like being the girl that walks into the grungy, dirty bar wearing something a little over the top.
Before I go out, sometimes I do weird things. I don't really exercise, but I do think that if you get your heart racing a little bit, your face looks less puffy. So I do my little push ups to wake myself up. Sometimes, my boyfriend and I will have a sip of tequila mixed with Coke. We put it in Solo cups and get in an Uber to go out. I could be in like the craziest gown in the world and there I am, sitting in an Uber with a plastic goblet.
SKINCARE & MAKEUP
I never think about my makeup. Even if I have an event and I’m going somewhere to get my makeup done and they ask, ‘Alright, what are we feeling?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. What are you feeling?’ I used to go to this place called Kimara Ahnert. It was this townhouse on 83rd Street, and it was really decadent, super over the top, very 18th-century France where you sit under these massive chandeliers and these women would do your makeup. Needless to say, I loved it. Loved it. That was like my thing. She’s like this weird Upper East Side niche figure. It’s like the Sunday night Italian restaurant on 80th Street that every single person has gone their whole life, but if you don’t live in that radius, you never know it exists. A girl that used to work there now comes and does my makeup sometimes.
When I'm on my own for makeup, I like starting off with the Sisley Eye Contour Mask because it makes you look like you just took a nap. Then I use Laura Mercier's Foundation Primer and Sisley's Phyto Teint Éclat Fluid Foundation. If Laura Mercier is the Jennifer, Sisley is the Lopez. Because I think together they really make that glow-y, ' Waiting for Tonight’-video look happen. Then I use Sisley Phyto-Touche Illusion d'Été Bronzer, which is really good. It’s a little moisturizing, and I like reflectiveness. I guess everyone uses Nars Blush in Orgasm, but I only do it in the hollow of my cheekbones. No one taught me that, I just hate looking flushed. I always think you look like a six-year-old with the little circles on your cheeks. It’s nicer to have defined cheekbones—I think I picked this up through art classes, actually.
I still buy my mascara at Duane Reade. I use Maybelline Great Lash in Blackest Black because I've never tried anything else, honest truth. I’ve never worn eye shadow in my life before until I found these Sisley Phyto-Ombré Éclat Eye Shadows in Linen and Sorbet. I don’t use a brush—just my finger on my lids. Then on my lower lash line, I'll take an angled brush and apply Toffee for a smoky effect. I’m usually done after that. Maybe I'll do my lips—nothing dark and vampy. Just something like Laura Mercier's Crème Smooth Lip Color in Angelic. This, to me, is fresh and new—and I like it. For reds, I use a Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. I like what’s it called— Dragon Girl. [Laughs]
END OF THE NIGHT
I’m always really electric at night. I get excited, but I don’t eat a lot. It's always me talking a lot and dancing a lot, so by 4am I'm starving. Then, no one is texting you anyway, so it's easier to slow down. You sit and enjoy a meal, and when you're drunk, everything tastes so good. So that probably happens once a week. You can usually find me at The Cozy Soup 'n' Burger. When I finally get home, I try to wash my makeup off with Sisley Creamy Mousse Cleanser. I'm the type of person who's into washing her face every night, but once a week I always end up falling asleep with makeup on. I wake up not realizing 'til I roll over and my boyfriend is like like, 'Oh god, you look horrible.' [Laughs] There’s always that one night where you’re just like too tired and would rather watch the Food Network.”
—as told to ITG.
Claire Distenfeld photographed by Tom Newton. For more After Dark routines, click here.