Investment banker turned mail-order magnate Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti—who founded the upscale catalog Vivre almost two decades ago—recently added fashion designer to her litany of talents. Here, the style maven shares her luxury-minded sensibility and opens the doors to her lush uptown apartment, filled with worldly objets d’art.
Your luxury catalog, Vivre, is hugely popular. How was the idea conceived?
Well over 10 years ago, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to combine luxury and catalogs, and bring these exclusive products directly into homes?” I wanted to create an experience where people could not only discover these amazing pieces, but also appreciate the stories and the incredible people behind them. Ignorance is a powerful instigator. I thought developing the catalog would be easy—of course, it wasn’t. But with a lot of passion, it worked out in the end.
You just launched a line with New York & Company. How did that come about?
When New York & Company approached me about doing a capsule collection, I couldn’t say no. New York—my favorite city, my chosen home, a place that excites me... and this line would be featured in 600-plus stores! The collection was rolled out in three parts, each with a different theme, but all based on my philosophy of accessorizing.
How would you describe the line, and what are the price points?
Most pieces are under $100. Some are casual, but there are also some great evening pieces, as well as leather pieces—including handbags—and big, bold, trendy jewelry.
You were a judge on Project Accessory. What was that like?
It was fabulous! Mentoring 12 amazing designers—seeing how you can influence lives, and being a part of that whole process—was amazing. I really believe in talent; I’ve worked with talent my whole life.
What inspires you every day?
I look for inspiration in everything and everyone in my life. The people, places and things that surround me: a chance encounter, a great article, a beautiful photograph, laughing with my friends or a big smile from my son... It’s often the unexpected little details that inspire me the most.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
To me, style is in the way you do everything in life—it’s an expression of the details that are unexpected and individual. Like architecture, you need a well-structured base, then you can add all the drama you want. I like to approach personal style with classic strong lines, and mix in accessories I’ve collected over time
You designed your apartment yourself. How would you describe it?
My apartment reflects the story of my life—things I’ve collected and loved over the years. My approach to decorating is very much the same as my approach to building a wardrobe: It’s all about a life of collecting, and layers. I fall in love with things along the way, and like to mix strong colors and styles together, juxtaposing traditional and modern.
What’s your favorite room?
It really depends on the time of the day, but perhaps the kitchen has become my favorite because it’s where the family comes together to argue about who’s the best cook of the day.
How do your children feel about the apartment?
I think they enjoy it... although my son was very unhappy with me the other day when I insisted on putting a piece of art in his bedroom. He was afraid I’d ruin his basketball haven.
Who are some of your fashion icons?
Maria Félix, for her exuberant and extravagant approach to life; the Marchesa Luisa Casati, for her eccentricity; Babe Paley, for her simplicity, strength and elegance; the Duchess of Windsor, for her exquisite taste in the way she lived; Frida Kahlo, for her passion and the inner strength that allowed her to surmount obstacles... and the women everywhere who possess that innate inner strength and a smile to melt for.