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Few people embody the downtown vibe of New York City more than Kristin Gallegos, a makeup artist, photographer, and DJ. The lifelong cosmetics lover grew up in Long Beach, California and started out by earning her esthetician license, setting the groundwork for making her subjects' flawless-looking skin a hallmark of her artistry. She moved here in 2004 and quickly became immersed in the beauty scene, assisting Dick Page backstage at New York Fashion Week and later racking up time with Pat McGrath and Charlotte Tilbury while building a career of her own.
Kristin's since worked her magic on famous faces like Alexa Chung, Lorde, Lupita Nyong'o, and Marina Abramovic for magazine editorials and campaigns that include everyone from Kate Spade and Bebe to Opening Ceremony and Givenchy. She only picked up photography in recent years (being on shoots with Patrick Demarchelier and Arthur Elgort no doubt inspired that) and yet already has built an impressive resumé in that arena as well, her work appearing in the likes of Nylon, Purple, and Galore.
And somehow, Kristin still finds time to spin records at New York's downtown spots like the Soho Grand, The Roxy, and Le Bain, almost always with cool friends in attendance. We spent the day with this vintage fashion lover to find out some of her secret spots for style, beauty and music.
CAFÉ HENRIE: 110 FORSYTH STREET
We start our day like any busy day should be started: with a caffeine boost. Kristin leads the way to one of the buzziest haunts in not only this neighborhood, but maybe the whole city.
"Café Henrie is my go-to sit-down coffee spot," she says. "I also love it for brunch as well." There are fresh veggie-packed dragon bowls and salads to be had, as well as pitch-perfect avocado toast. We can't resist snacking on chocolate tahini brownies and turmeric apricot biscuits. "I just love the overall vibe in here. It's run by some friends of mine, and the aesthetic is sick. I go just to hang, but also for [work] meetings."
GEORGIA NYC VINTAGE: 27 ORCHARD STREET
Fueled for a day of shopping, we head somewhere our guide is excited to show us, Georgia NYC Vintage. "My friend, Georgia, owns this store. I think it's a well-curated vintage spot — definitely my favorite in the neighborhood."
That great curation is key: there are plenty of treasures you never knew your closet couldn't survive without, but the best part is that nothing is priced like a treasure. We found a sweet pink 1950s dress for $65, a Victorian blouse for $80, and a 1960s floral-print mini skirt for $47.
"She also throws good parties there, and recently added a coffee bar inside. I love that they've kept the old storefront sign — it feels very old school."
THE GREAT FROG: 72 ORCHARD STREET
Now we need accessories for our new threads, and Kristin knows the coolest jewelry shop in town. Fans of The Great Frog run the gamut from Slash and Alice Cooper to Kate Moss and Lady Gaga.
"It's is an amazing rock and roll jewelry spot," she says. "I love all of their stuff and it's right down the street from my apartment, so I hang out there a lot." Cabinets filled with unique silver jewelry that is just so badass (skull rings, dagger pendants) line the rich wood interior of the store. It's a little bit glam-rock, a little bit biker, and a little bit high-fashion edge.
THE CAST: 72 ORCHARD STREET
Another perk about The Great Frog is that it leads right back into another under-the-radar fashion spot.
"The Cast is amazing because they do custom leather jackets," Kristin points out. "I used to live next door to the original Cast workspace [on Ludlow Street] when I first moved to the city, so I have known Chuck, the owner, for a long time. I also love going to hang out with their black Pomeranian, Bill Cooper."
"Everything in here is great, from the clothes to the sunglasses to the records. It's an overall vibe and aesthetic." Find punk tees, second-skin jeans, leopard-print blouses, photography books — everything you need, really, to give your closet and your apartment a touch of the old-school Lower East Side.
ARTÉ SALON: 294 ELIZABETH STREET
Our guide suggests a beauty break before we keep shopping, so we swing a little west. "I used to refuse to go to salons," Kristin says. "Before I moved [here], I had my ex-boyfriend cut my hair and then I continued to cut it myself for years. And then finally, I met Abbie, who is a stylist at Arté Salon."
In the city's sea of salons, it's priceless to have one you can really trust, especially when you have a style that has to be perfect. "She's the first person I've ever let touch my bangs. She cuts a lot of my friends' hair, and I felt like she really got it."
A1 RECORDS: 439 EAST 6TH STREET
Kristin is as much of a music expert as she is a beauty expert. "I have collected records for a long time," our guide says. She takes us to A1 Records, an oldie-therefore-goodie packed with both popular finds and exciting rarities.
"I go to a lot of different spots in the city, but this is definitely my favorite. They are well-priced and have an amazing selection." While there's plenty of rock to be found, this shop is especially a must for those seeking hip-hop, soul, and jazz. "I never leave without at least two records every time."
MAST BOOKS: 66 AVENUE A
Mast Books is cool, quiet, and calm, a smallish space where you can really relax and take your time perusing each and every book. You'll want to, because the thing about Mast is that every addition to the inventory here is truly unique.
"Mast is the coolest bookstore. It's so well curated. They have an incredible selection of used and rare books. It's great if you're looking for a first edition or a special version of a specific book. I could be in there for hours."
Classic titles that are there tend to be limited-edition prints, and they mingle with compilations of punk zines from the 1980s and Roland Barthes writings. Save up for trophy pieces, like an entire collection of old Thrasher magazines that were recently on display.
BERLIN: 25 AVENUE A
We end our day where we can start our night, a basement bar that's become a clubhouse for New York cool kids since its opening last summer.
"Berlin is my favorite bar and venue in NYC," Kristin says of the spot from Jesse Malin, the downtown nightlife guru behind the likes of Niagara and the Bowery Electric. "I have a weekly Tuesday night party there, and I DJ there other nights, as well."
It summons the spirit of the East Village in decades past with a sleek twist — it's no dive bar, but it's decidedly punk. With arched, tiled ceilings, moody lighting, and a lineup of live music adding to its destination status, Berlin has all the makings of a new downtown icon. "It's always a dance party in there."