When Lori Levine, who runs talent-booking agency Flying Television (flyingtelevision.com), moved into her Gramercy apartment, the tiny closets were the first things to go. “When this building was built, it was meant to be a halfway house,” says Levine, who purchased the pad in 2005. “The closets were designed so people could stay here for a couple of days—certainly not forever.” After construction workers came in and knocked down walls, she hired California Closets (californiaclosets.com) to create two organized wardrobes that would simplify her busy lifestyle (she later had her handyman build a third). Levine favors nonslip Huggable Hangers from the Container Store (629 Sixth Ave between 18th and 19th Sts • 725 Lexington Ave at 58th St • 212-366-4200, containerstore.com) to save space and keep garments from falling.
“Opening this closet is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning,” says Levine of her primary wardrobe, which holds all of her shoes, everyday clothes (such as jeans and blouses) and designer handbags.
While many California Closets are built with cubbyholes for footwear, Levine thinks they take up too much room. Instead, she uses clear plastic bins from the Container Store, which allow her to see her shoes and utilize every inch of space. “You have to get the men’s athletic-shoe size,” she notes. “For a six-inch platform, [the box] needs to be bigger. You can get the smaller ones for flats.”
“When I find something great, I try to get multiples,” explains Levine of these Tucker (tuckerbygabybasora.com) blouses that she scored at the brand’s sample sale. The billowy shape, she says, works well on her body type.
A creature of habit, Levine has these Chanel quilted purses in at least seven different colors. “This is the perfect bag because it can be worn as a cross-body or a clutch,” she says. “It’s the ultimate evening bag.”
Although this is one of many Chanel purses in Levine’s arsenal, its origins are special to her. “Karl was there and it was major,” she enthuses of the exclusive Fashion’s Night Out 2011 event, held at the brand’s boutique, where she purchased it. “We got to pick the outside color, inside leather, chain color and have it monogrammed,” she recalls. “I’m proud of it because I haven’t seen anyone else [carrying it].”
“In my mind, I’m not only buying clothes for the woman I am now, but for the woman I’m going to be in ten years,” explains Levine. “When you spend this much money on clothes, you want to know that something is going to last a long time.” To wit, Levine had her eyes on floral jeans—a big 2012 trend—but instead went with this Equipment blouse from Blue & Cream (1 E 1st St at Bowery; 212-533-3088, blueandcream.com) to get the look in a more practical way.
Levine snagged this Chanel needlepoint purse when luxury handbag e-tailer Portero (portero.com) had a brick-and-mortar auction. “Each one of them is different,” she notes. “I always want pieces that are individual but classic at the same time. I need to be able to wear them both with Levi’s and with [fancy] heels.”
On the way to Paris Fashion Week 2010, Levine was devastated when all of her luggage was stolen. “I walked all over Paris trying to re-create the outfits that I lost,” she says. These Steven by Steve Madden (529 Broadway at Spring St, 212-431-6021 ● 355 Bleecker St between Charles and W 10th St, 212-206-6842 ● stevemadden.com) patent-leather oxfords—Levine’s favorite shoes—were among the items lost. “I called all the Steven [locations] and begged my assistant to [help] find them,” she recalls. “I did not want to live without them and I’m so glad I don’t [have to].” She took the laces out, so they would look more like her boyfriend’s shoes.
Levine calls these Christian Louboutin slingbacks from Saks Fifth Avenue her saving grace while she was in Paris. “I bought them even though they don’t look comfortable and aren’t even practical,” she says. “They ended up being the most comfortable [shoes]. I wore them every day [in Paris]. They look wrong and yet they’re so right.”
This bright orange Hermès (691 Madison Ave at 62nd St, 212-751-3181 ● 15 Broad St between Exchange Pl and Wall St, 212-785-3030 ● hermes.com) Birkin bag was a gift from a client and sat in Levine’s closet for two years. “I felt like a walking advertisement for Hermès and the color is too much for me,” she explains. She had Nicholas Forker (nicholasforker.com), an artist she represents, use a Sharpie to illustrate her favorite things on it (fried chicken and love letters, to name a few). “It seems blasphemous, but I use it all the time now,” she says.
“This bandage material hugs you in all the right places,” says Levine of this Z Spoke by Zac Posen dress she scored at Saks. “The [faux] belt goes all the way around and I appreciate the detail. I really don’t like [when dresses have] a party in the front and a librarian in the back.”
“These are a little showy for me, but the heel is just too good,” says Levine (who wears a Thakoon top) of these Chanel pumps from Saks.
Levine was stoked to secure a coveted Louis Vuitton collar necklace from Saks, but has yet to use it. “It’s so beautiful, but what do I wear it with?” she asks with a laugh.
“I never thought I’d be a person who owns silver hot pants,” says Levine of these Chanel shorts that she wore with a basic white tank to her birthday party last year.
“I really believe in a matching moment,” says Levine, referring to this two-piece ’80s tweed Chanel suit that she scored at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show (manhattanvintage.com). “I can take the pieces apart and wear the skirt with a white shirt, but it reminds me of Isaac Mizrahi and Linda Evangelista [the way it is].”
A four-sided, rotating jewelry chest from eBay (ebay.com) keeps Levine’s baubles organized and on display. “I need to be able to see everything,” she declares. “If you don’t see them, they don’t get used. I also want to make sure nothing gets destroyed. It helps if everything has a place.”
“These are purses, but to me they are pieces of art,” says Levine of her cheeky Chanel and Christian Louboutin clutches that sit atop the jewelry cabinet. “I have bangs and she has bangs,” notes Levine of the former doll-shaped bag. “She could be my baby.”
Erickson Beamon (ericksonbeamon.com) diamond earrings are displayed next to an Art Deco costume pair from J.Crew, exemplifying Levine’s high-low attitude when it comes to her jewelry collection.
“It’s not always about the designer,” says Levine of these drop earrings. “I bought all of these on the street in Soho. I can wear them with anything.”
Levine was ogling these vibrant earrings in a now-closed vintage store’s window near her office. “They’re coral, pearl and turquoise,” she says. “I thought for sure they were going to be $1,200—they were $100. I said to my assistant,‘Run before she changes her mind!’”
Levine spends less time in this evening-wear-packed closet, which also stores boots from Christian Louboutin and Chanel, but knows she has something special at the ready when an event comes up. “Don’t shop for occasions,” she warns. “You’ll get something that you hate. I know I can come in here and there’s always something for me.”
Levine keeps a rolling rack next to her gown closet to help her get ready for events. She picks out garments, such as this Thakoon dress from Saks, and piles on jewelry and other accessories, so she can view the entire ensemble. The packed rack currently shows a week’s worth of fashionable outfits.
The third closet is stocked with Levine’s fur collection and a few special coats, including these Valentino leather styles from Saks.
Her favorite NYC stores
Chanel 139 Spring St at Wooster St, 212-334-0055 ● 15 E 57th St between Fifth and Madison Aves, 212-355-5050 ● 789 Madison Ave at 67th St, 212-535-5505 ● chanel.com
“I’m a little obsessed,” admits Levine. “Truth be told, I grew up with nothing—I didn’t have anything designer. Chanel was the epitome of [making it]. I always knew that when I got older, if I was able to, I’d shop at Chanel.”
Rag & Bone 73 E Houston St at Elizabeth St; 212-777-2210, rag-bone.com
Levine favors the Nolita location of this hip brand. “It isn’t very busy and the staff is so nice,” she explains. “And you can’t deny how good the jeans are.”
Saks Fifth Avenue 611 Fifth Ave between 49th and 50th Sts; 212-753-4000, saksfifthavenue.com
“I’m so busy working that shopping is the last thing I want to do,” admits Levine. “My personal shopper, Luba Rudkovskaya, is incredible. She chooses amazing items that somehow always work.”