LONDON--We've all come to know and love The Coveteur's intimate portraits of the fashion elite's covetable wardrobes ever since the site opened its proverbial doors over a year ago. Despite being relatively new, the site's dynamic founding duo Stephanie Mark and Erin Kleinberg have already curated online editorials from over 100 closets including style pioneers like Simon Doonan and Patricia Field, and have done a number of big-name collabs (with Elle, W and Who What Wear to name a few). I was lucky enough to snag an invitation to tag along with Stephanie and Erin and their photographer Jake Rosenberg when The Coveteur took London by storm. I was dying to find out just how they create their impeccably styled stories and what it’s like to step into the personal closets of fashion heavyweights. As a fellow Canadian, I was delighted to discover that these super-stylish girls are the definition of a Canadian best friend (in fact they met when they were besties at summer camp): friendly, warm and approachable. I could immediately see why they’ve been granted access into these trendsetters’ most intimate spaces.
THE COVETEUR LONDON TOUR: DAY ONE I met the trio at the first stop of the day: the East London flat of young British designer, J.W. Anderson, who made his debut at London Fashion Week five years ago. This curation was a little unique - they actually were not shooting J.W., but his beautiful muse Charlotte Hall, the PR Director for unique Dalston store LN-CC. She was staying at J.W.’s apartment while her nearby Dalston flat got renovated.
After explaining their process to Charlotte, Stephanie and Erin got straight to the goods and started surveying Charlotte’s wardrobe. They sifted through the racks, pulling out the items to profile that spoke to them and illustrated the subject’s personal aesthetic.
When faced with a wardrobe full of Jil Sander and perfectly perforated J.W. Anderson, where do you even start? The girls told me they look for recurring motifs in each closet: prints, pieces, colors etc. They then create “stories” from there – much like an editor does when they’re designing market pages for a magazine.
It’s not just about the designer labels for The Coveteur. In fact, the girls don’t run straight to the big names but look for the more unique, memorable items. They told me they’re really drawn to color and prints – instant eye catchers, rare gems (i.e. Chanel) and anything vintage. “When we go inside someone’s home, it’s not about showcasing that ‘it’ bag or pair of shoes that every street-style blog has snapped,” they told me, “It’s about showcasing a person’s style by curating individual pieces that speak to their unique look.”
After spending an hour or so with the lovely Charlotte, it was on to the incredible 17th century East London house belonging to independent producer (and Preen muse) Juliette Larthe. The ladies shot Juliette’s collection of Preen amidst her impressive collection of art, including a giant original Warhol. (Art is always a constant source of Coveteur inspiration.)
What really struck me about this next stop was just how intimate and exclusive the process is. The Coveteur team is invited into the homes (…closets, kitchens and bathrooms!) of the fashion elite. An inside peek at these personal spaces lends a new level of intimacy between the blogger and the subject. I asked them about this dynamic and how it affects their process, which I find to be uniquely collaborative. “We’re given a lot of access to these people's' lives and full freedom to dig through their deepest drawers and closets. It definitely affects our creative process,” they said. “It’s important to us that our subjects have some sense of creative control because after all, the process can seem very invasive. Once the gallery is finalized, the images are sent to the subject to approve or discard any of them and they get to describe the items in their own words. It's not every day that you let someone dig through your lingerie drawer...you never know what you might find!”
THE COVETEUR LONDON TOUR: DAY TWO
On day two, we headed straight to the super cool Shoreditch offices of London fashion designer (and Kate Middleton favorite) Erdem. The influential designer (and fellow Canadian) opened up his creative space to The Coveteur, and the trio got straight to work. While the girls have shot big name designers such as Peter Som and Tommy Hilfiger, meeting Erdem in the flesh was a big one for me. I asked the girls what their most surreal Coveteur moment was. “Besides the overwhelming response when we launched, going to Paris with Chanel and meeting Karl Lagerfeld was pretty surreal,” they confided.“We've admired and respected the Chanel brand forever so being approached by the iconic brand was a huge honor. We met Karl after the Paris-Bombay show and we didn't sleep for days leading up to it.”
While I hated to leave Erdem’s studio and those unbelievable floral prints behind, it was time for the final stop on the Coveteur London tour: well-known blogger Susie Lau from Style Bubble. In my opinion, there’s no trendsetter on the blogosphere with more personal style than Susie. I was blown away by her closet (Dries pants! Kirkwood shoes! Prabal sunglasses!) and watched in awe as the girls pulled piece after piece from Susie’s never-ending colorful collection of unique pieces. I asked the girls, when faced with so much (we may have needed a ladder), how does the Coveteur choose what to shoot? “Curating someone’s closet is definitely a lot more work than one would expect,” says The Coveteur. “Even though we both worked as editors before launching the site, it's playing the role of editor that can sometimes be challenging when you're overwhelmed with good options. Ultimately, it comes back to the overall concept: giving our readers a small peek at the larger picture, so they can imagine the rest of the amazingness.”
After two days of exclusive closet-creeping adventures, the trio had to get back to Toronto. Before they left, Stephanie and Erin told me what’s next for The Coveteur. “The Coveteur is somewhere you come to get lost for hours on end – we hope it has timeless images and information that will be just as relevant now as it will be in a year. Ultimately, we see The Coveteur becoming a multi-platform brand and one-stop-shop site for everything.” I, for one, intend to stay-tuned.