By  on May 29, 2013

When Claire Distenfeld opened her boutique Fivestory in April 2012 in a townhouse on New York’s Upper East Side, the press pounced. Partially because Distenfeld had hired good public relations and partly because the idea of a new multibrand luxury fashion store — not a Web site — seemed novel in this age of e-commerce domination.

In the case of Fivestory, the real brick and mortar was a historic brownstone on Manhattan’s East 69th Street, gutted and refilled with black-and-white marble floors, polished stone and tufted velvet furnishings by designer Ryan Korban. Before construction was complete, Fivestory had been written up in Vogue and The New York Times based purely on Distenfeld’s bravado. With no real retail experience, the then-26-year-old, who was coming off a brief stint in the art world, had been putting her store in the same sentence as such famed boutiques as 10 Corso Como and Colette.

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