clos-ette case: Charles Allem

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Melanie Charlton

Take one look at designer Charles Allem’s picture-perfect closet, and it’s clear: this is a man who understands form and function. Is it any surprise? The Miami-based decorator –and much-loved Clos-ette collaborator – has been fascinated with design ever since his South African boyhood. Now, Allem –who’s been named to Architectural Digest's prestigious “AD 100” list –spends  his days working on commercial and residential projects all over the world.  While the style of his commissions span from Louis XIV right through minimalism, his wardrobe consistently tends toward the simple. “I find myself very edited now, favoring very classic clothing,” says Allem. The goal? To create “that stylish kind of closet that can take you anywhere, any place.”

clos-ette case: Charles Allem
Charles Allem's celebrity dream closet

Here, the jet-setting designer gives us the scoop on streamlining his storage space, traveling in style, and dressing for success.

How would you describe your personal style?

Sleek, minimal, and edited.

How does your eye for interiors inform your fashion choices?

My interior design choices are so varied, obviously, as it is my profession. I do very different styles of work, and each project is very unique. But if we’re talking about Charles Allem personally, in his journey and in his life, I am a minimalist. And the reason for that is I do design ever day, all day, 24/7 in my mind. So you know, it’s like the shoemaker doesn’t have his own shoes. It’s that kind of thing, where I like to be in a very clean environment.

custom dream closet
Inside Allem's sleek Miami closet

Tell us about your closet.

Everything’s all in custom white lacquer. The whole apartment is – it’s a satined lacquer finish. My closets, personally, are exactly as you see them – ready for somebody that’s on the move. I spend my life flying in airplanes, I’m constantly at meetings all over the world, so at a moment’s notice I have to be flexible. I think today specifically, for people that are on the move, you need a very streamlined wardrobe that’s edited, and that works for you, and that you can put together three or four or five pieces and go on a business trip for four days, and look different all the time. So, great cashmere sweaters, fabulous blazers, a great pair of jeans, dress shirt, and a suit. And I think you can see the world in that. [Our Signature Suit Hangers and Coat Hangers are ideal for men’s basics.]

How do you keep your closet so pared down?

I’m not one of those closet hoarders. I use to be. Now, I have my core pieces that sort of carry my closet, and those are the classic pieces. I love to buy a lot of Prada, a lot of Balmain, a lot of Lanvin –so, you know, I like kind of restrained clothes. I have two wardrobes, I have a wardrobe in Miami and one in New York, and sometimes I keep twos of things. I’m a great believer in if you find something that works for you, it’s classic and it’s chic, buy it in two colors. Why not? Then I edit, heavily. If I don’t wear it, it goes right out – I either give it away or send it to my nephew, or I give it somebody in the studio. I believe it’s not that dear to me that I’ve got to hold onto it if I don’t use it. I think somebody else should enjoy it.  

 custom dream closet

To achieve neat sweater stacks like Allem's, try our Acrylic Shelf Dividers

What’s your daily uniform?

That depends on what I’ve got ahead of me for the day. If I’m doing client meetings, then my wardrobe changes to a more dressy approach, and if I’m working with my team in the studio, it’s very different –I put on a pair of fabulous Yves Saint Laurent sneakers and I thrown on a pair of Diesel jeans, and I like to wear a nice shirt –sometimes a Lanvin polo. And that’s pretty much my look here in Miami. 

Do you have a favorite designer?

There’s so many of them. I think Dior identifies very well with my minimalist, clean, sleek, restrained look. I think it’s fabulous. You’ve got to keep yourself in shape, though, to wear it. I kill myself working out and dieting.

What’s the predominant color in your wardrobe?

Black. All my adult life, I’ve always worn black. I just think it works so well for somebody who’s on the move. You know, colors are wonderful and I love color – don’t misunderstand me –but I haven’t got time to coordinate colors. So, I’d rather have the shirts and colors of the season thrown in with the blacks and gunmetal grays, navy blue, and white. And then touches of color everywhere. Even in Miami, I don’t wear pinks and yellows and all that kind of tropical fusion. [Clos-ette Too’s Signature Hangers come in an array of colors –including black! –to suit any taste.]

custom dream closet
Allem organizes his mostly-black wardrobe by item. 

What’s your luggage of choice?

I love Louis Vuitton luggage. Certainly not the one with the logo on it –I’m not a logo person at all, [and] I’m not a ‘bling’ person at all. I like it very restrained. I use the black Epi leather luggage. I have had all the different brands of luggage, from T. Anthony to Goyard, and the only thing that I carry today is black Louis Vuitton. They are brilliant at making functional luggage. It holds up to iconic trips without looking tacky or torn, or funny. Occaissionally I’ll carry a black crocodile handbag if I’m going to New York and I don’t need to bring anything. It’s matte crocodile – again, I like things that are matte. I don’t mind something shiny, but that would really be for the evening, like a pair of black patent leather shoes or something like that. [Check out our Travel Jewelry Case for the best way to pack your accessories.]

 What’s the most cherished thing in your wardrobe?

Myself. [Laughs] I am the most cherished thing. There’s absolutely nothing –well, there’s a Balenciaga blazer that I love and adore, and I’ve had it for years. I think it’s the oldest piece I have in my closet. But to be honest with you, there’s nothing in my closet that is that important to me that I can’t replace. I don’t hoard clothes, and just think it’s fashion, and fashion should change. 

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