Like most New Yorkers, we’ve been known to meander down a side street or two, gazing at the gorgeous brownstones and wondering who lives behind the stately double doors. So, anytime we have the opportunity to peek inside, we know it’s going to be especially glam. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we visited renowned editorial stylist Vanessa Chow at her Manhattan home, which boasts four floors and a backyard—a city-dweller’s real-estate dream. Needless to say, we got quite the workout running up and down the stairs with armfuls of shoes. And, oh man, do we need to talk about *the shoes*.
As soon as we turn the corner to her walk-in closet, floor-to-ceiling shelves of heels, boots, flats, and loafers await us. Balenciaga, Manolo Blahnik, Saint Laurent—she’s got them all covered. Once our heart rates return to normal, Chow attests that she comes by her love of shoes honestly: “My grandmother was tiny tiny—I think she was a size 4 foot—and she would come to New York every couple of years and order these heels, and she’d get every color. I’d always go with her and she’d order boxes and boxes of shoes, and then I’d sneak [in] and play with them.” She explains that her family moved to Hong Kong shortly thereafter, and eventually, her work as a stylist took her to Paris, and finally back to NYC. “[I’ve been here] over 15 years. I’ve never been anywhere for that long.”
With a resume that boasts editorials in Interview and InStyle, and clients like Coach and Swarovski, her wardrobe was bound to be just as impressive. After stepping inside the rest of her impeccably organized closet, it was clear Chow would not disappoint. Her extensive world travels are evident throughout her sartorial choices, from the Jane Birkin-esque silk dresses and piles of denim, to her collection of floaty white blouses and Dolce & Gabbana bodysuits. Occasional pops of color and texture stand out in the form of a snakeskin Christian Louboutin sandal or a turquoise, glittery Gucci pump. “I think I came more into myself here,” she muses as we unearth a spectacular Junya Watanabe leather and brocade jacket. “[My time in] Paris was definitely experimental. When you’re younger it’s even more experimental. It’s strange. I don’t know how to explain it.”
As she guides us throughout the house in a voluminous Céline dress, we begin to see a similar theme of refined lines with touches of ornate detailing—those leftover vestiges of her time in Paris and Hong Kong. Like her home, with its dark, moody kitchen and dozens of French paned windows, her personal aesthetic is luxe but comfortable; structured yet romantic. It’s the wardrobe of a fashion veteran who, no matter how long she’s been in the industry, will still get excited over a pair of vintage CHANEL pumps. Seriously, what girl wouldn’t?
Click through to learn what it was like working backstage with Lee McQueen in his heyday, why every woman should own a good bodysuit, and how her craziest photo shoot ended in a combination of bubblegum, sub-zero temperatures, leg wax, and dozens of stilettos. Plus, shop her closet here.