My City, My Style: Stephanie LaCava's Top NYC Hotspots

The mind of New York author Stephanie LaCava can be described much like her blog: a "phantom cabinet of curiosities and ephemera." Indeed, the very sharp thinker (and writer and dresser) has so much inspiration and internal monologue churning at all times that her crowded (but never jumbled) stream of consciousness is best served with footnoted, free-hand sketches, and short narrative arcs. Sound a little like her memoir, An Extraordinary Theory Of Objects? Well, that's because her writing is so translucently honest that it shines as brightly as her "real life" voice, too. Chronicling her (sometimes melancholic) upbringing in Paris, LaCava successfully translates a girl's coming of age story with the skill of a woman's pen.
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Equally transfixing, though, is her bevy of stylish ensembles, which turn heads at the many events and charities LaCava supports. So, we did what seemed natural: We met up with the author-on-the-rise to see her New York. And though her book may tell the story of an "outsider's" journey through a foreign city, it's abundantly clear that she's right at home here in the Big Apple, amongst the bookstores, cafes, and shops she loves — and which love her back. (How many novelists can claim capsule collaborations with Marc Jacobs?) Plus, we dove straight into LaCava's "phantom cabinet" to find out more about her inspiration, favorite tomes, and how she looks so effortless, always. Yes, this is certainly one style theory worth studying.
Click through for Stephanie LaCava's stylish looks and favorite NYC spots, and make sure to check out her book reading and signing with Marc Jacobs at Bookmarc, tomorrow, 6 to 8 p.m.
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First, tell us a little bit about why you like each of the pieces you chose to be featured in the article. Any fun stories or memories there?
"I sort of always wear the same things, though in different ways. I also love to borrow things — I literally stole the jacket from my friend who was the DP on a book trailer film we made. He came by to pick up some equipment and then I pretty much stole the jacket off his back.

The Stones T-shirt is a little expected, but I can't help it as it's a real concert tee that my husband got at one of his first shows. The opal ring was my grandmother's, my mother's, and then mine."
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Many people compare writing a book to childbirth — how do you feel about your newborn? Describe the process and range of emotions.
"I'm not sure I know what it's like to not be writing a book. I've always played and explored in this way since I could talk and read. These essays came like this. And, I'm sure my next book has parts written down in one of my millions of notebooks, too."
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Stephanie's first stop is Café Gitane, the Nolita spot known for its chic Moroccan-inspired menu and even chicer clientele.

Cafe Gitane, 242 Mott Street (between Houston and Prince streets); 212-334-9552.
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Prada shoes, Opening Ceremony skirt, borrowed jacket, vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt.
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How has New York helped develop your writing?
"There's so much to read, and to see."
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What about your style?
"My French best friend says I'm an unusual mix — from New York I get my eccentricity, and a spirit that is very open and experimental. She also says I get my mixing, especially wearing tight, short lace things with men's hoodies and long-sleeve T-shirts."
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What are the main differences, in terms of style, attitude, etc., that you have noticed between Parisian women and New York women?
"Parisian women may be a little more conservative but somehow cooler, too. There's a comfort with sexuality that's not so evident in New York. Maybe here it's more about power."
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Stephanie leaves Café Gitane behind to show us more of NYC.
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Miu Miu shorts, American Apparel T-shirt, Jil Sander cardigan, Maison Michel hat, A.P.C. bag.
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Her Ann Demeulemeester wedges in action.
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Like many stylish New Yorkers (your humble R29 editors included), Stephanie turns to Opening Ceremony for all things sartorial.

Opening Ceremony, 35 Howard Street (between Crosby Street and Broadway); 212-219-2688.
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How does your narrative voice compare to your "real life" voice or inner monologue?
"It's pretty much the same. Pity me — I think in footnotes and rambling essays."
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What inspired or pushed you to take your experiences in Paris and turn them into a book? How did you come up with the specific way in which you wanted to deliver your story (i.e. with short stories, illustrations and footnotes)?
"It coalesced this way through a perfect storm. I wrote an essay about my process called Past Love, explaining how I work in a frenzy, and then it sort of distilled itself."
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rag & bone jeans, Balenciaga sweater, Ann Demeulemeester wedges, L.L.Bean tote, Pamela Love necklaces.
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Stephanie shows us around her favorite bookstore, McNally Jackson — don't be surprised if you see her noshing on her daily cookie.

McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street (between Mulberry and Lafayette streets); 212-274-1160.
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How has online writing (blogs, Twitter, the saturation of personal narrative) changed the way you wrote your book or are promoting it?
"It's amazing to reach people, and also have them reach you. I've started to receive amazing notes from people who relate to the story. That's all you really want in the end."
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You use the phrase "a phantom cabinet of curiosities" to describe your website. How did that phrase come about and what exactly does it mean to you?
"I'm obsessed with historic cabinets of curiosities, and my brain's a mess. So, this is my mind online, trying to organize itself without any real shelves, and others can see inside, too."
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We dare you to step inside this store and not pick up a book.
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A few of the classics hang from the ceiling.
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How would you describe your personal style?
"Dark and feminine; The same friend says I'm a mix of Francoise D'Orleac, Les Desmoiselles de Rouchefort, and Jean Seberg. Her quote, not mine."
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Roksanda Ilincic jumpsuit, Jil Sander jacket, Maison Michel hat.
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What is your most-worn item of clothing?
"Miu Miu bloomer short shorts."
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Where do you look for inspiration?
"Books! And films I love."
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A peek inside Harney & Sons, where Stephanie goes for sips of tea and writing QT.

Harney & Sons, 433 Broome Street (between Crosby Street and Broadway); 212-933-4853.
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Who did you look up to as a kid?
"Isabelle Adjani."

What about now?
"My best friend."
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Who is your literary hero? What about style hero?
"Maeve Brennan and Jeffrey Eugenides...I would give them style hero titles, too. I love James Salter, too."
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What is some advice you can give to aspiring writers in NYC?
"Wake early, work hard, and believe. There will be times when no one else does."
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What can we look forward to from you?
"I am actually working on a volunteer program with the Child Mind Institute, it's an amazing cause."
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