February 12, 2023To any visitor, Naomi Elizée’s Brooklyn duplex looks polished and serene. Downstairs, the high-ceilinged living and dining rooms are airy and intentionally spare, with a few well-chosen pieces of furniture accented by simple but dramatic floral arrangements in sculptural vases. Upstairs, the bedroom is similarly clutter-free, and the bathroom, complete with a small skylight, has been thoughtfully decorated with lit candles, a tray of guest towels and a suite of Byredo products that smell like a green meadow. But Elizée, a fashion editor for Vogue, isn’t quite done with the place yet. “Overall, I feel like it’s at eighty percent,” she says.
Her apartment is neither the converted-warehouse situation walking distance from the Bushwick art and restaurant scene nor the Whitney-adjacent one-bedroom in the bustling West Village in which you might expect to find a cool-girl tastemaker who’s a fashion-week fixture and a regular at megawatt events like the Met Gala.
Instead, it’s located on an unassuming block in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in a three-story brick house built in 1899. “It’s so quiet, and that’s what I like,” Elizée says. She occupies the top two floors with her boyfriend, multimedia artist Anthony Blue Jr. The couple moved in mid-pandemic, in January 2021, and since then Elizée has been curating the decor, making it feel like home. “It’s the first time my boyfriend and I have moved in together and the first time I’ve had a space that I could really make my own — and also our own, because it’s, you know, his space too,” she acknowledges with joking reluctance.
Unsurprisingly, as a fashion lover, she dresses adventurously, more often than not in bright colors and exuberant patterns. “My personal style is so loud,” she says unapologetically. “When you go into my closet” — a walk-in filled with favorite labels like Christopher John Rogers and Telfar, not to mention several pairs of Martin Margiela’s iconic Tabi shoes — “it’s busting with stripes and patterns and colors.” But as she began browsing apps like Instagram, Pinterest and 1stDibs for interior design inspiration, she realized she was looking for something different.
“When I was approaching my home and what I wanted in the space, I knew that I wanted it to be more muted and easy,” she says. “I really gravitated toward that more tranquil style. I felt like it reflected what I wanted in my day-to-day, in terms of relaxation and having a sense of stillness, because my everyday life can be so chaotic, especially working in fashion.”
That translated to “a lot of neutrals, a lot of whites,” she notes. But “hints of color” pop up here and there, mainly in the accessories. One bold piece on her wish list is an Ettore Sottsass lamp she favorited on 1stDibs. “I’ve been eyeing this lamp for so long. I don’t even know where I’ll put it. I think I’ll put it in the bedroom or maybe on my bookshelf. That’s a really dream piece for me.” And there’s a pink Faye Toogood Roly-Poly in the closet, which she uses as a slipper chair.
When asked whether she’s been shopping more vintage or new pieces, Elizée replies that it’s been a balance of both. The dining room features a vintage travertine table surrounded by slim-lined 1980s Mario Botta chairs. “Then, it’s a mix of new pieces that I knew would stay in my home for years to come, pieces that I don’t plan on replacing, like the Quad coffee table by Mike Serra.” The hypnotically smooth white table was her first foray into slow furniture — made-to-order instead of mass-produced — but the result was worth waiting for.
“The vessel from Simone Bodmer-Turner was a big purchase for me too,” she adds, mentioning that local artists and businesses, like Brooklyn-based sculptor Bodmer-Turner, are some of her favorite resources. Another fellow Brooklynite is furniture designer Marie Burgos. Her spring-green Bean pouf occupies a corner of Elizée’s living room, and a smattering of her candles are artfully placed on the mantel and shelves.
Supporting small businesses, especially those that are Black-owned, is an ongoing campaign for Elizée. She’s a constant champion of Black fashion designers at Vogue. “It’s just about keeping them top of mind,” she says. “I think it’s important to continue to celebrate and support these Black designers, because at the end of the day, they don’t always have the same resources and access to the industry that a lot of their counterparts do.”
A few years ago she also launched a podcast, So … What Do You Do Again?, about Black women in fashion, demystifying the industry and building a sense of community by talking with guests from model Precious Lee to Rajni Jacques, the former fashion director of Allure who is global head of fashion and beauty at Snapchat. “On social media, and on the outside looking in, it constantly feels like everyone has this easy path,” she says. “I wanted to make sure that in the podcast, I showcased that everyone has their struggles and no one is alone in this, that we can utilize each other as resources. I wanted it to feel like we’re all getting drinks or we’re all at dinner, and we’re just chatting.”
In a similar spirit of community support, Elizée has applied her eye for all things design to curating a collection of furniture, decor and fashion offered by Black sellers on 1stDibs. “These are pieces that I would personally want to wear or live with, that I would recommend to my friends, to my family, to anyone,” she says, “from the Tabi boots that I really wish were in my personal collection to those Studio SORS tables that kind of remind me of flying saucers — they’re very cool.”
She also likes the Womb sconce I by sculptor Jan Ernst de Wet, which she can picture in her bedroom, or possibly the dining room. Regrettably, she doesn’t have space for some of the more substantial pieces, like a 1960s Danish teak shelving unit and a pair of 1950s Ico Parisi lounge chairs.
One day, she plans to have a larger home “where maybe I have a seating area — just, like, a separate seating area,” she says in a wistful tone recognizable to most New York apartment dwellers. She’d love to have a backyard, too, a place to put the Mathieu Matégot Tropique chairs she chose for the collection. And a dog. “A girl can dream,” she says. “We’re manifesting!”