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A Rebel in Retail

Stephen Naparstek’s eclectic background is reflected in his personal style and in his new retail venture, Bonnie & Clyde’s, a rock-’n’-roll couture boutique in Wicker Park.

NAME: Stephen Naparstek
AGE: 36
HOME: Bucktown
WHAT: Owner, Bonnie & Clyde’s

Stephen Naparstek is a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades. He has dabbled in graphic design and the fine arts, and most recently worked as an event management consultant. His eclectic background is reflected in his personal style (in his closet, there’s a funky spray-painted vest and leather jacket, as well as a classic Dior suit) and in his new retail venture, Bonnie & Clyde’s, a rock-’n'-roll couture boutique in Wicker Park. Earlier this year, he and his friend-turned-lover-turned-business partner, Sarah Gordon, opened the shop; Naparstek says he had no idea at the time just how audaciously undermining the competition could be. “We’ve had people-and I’m not going to name names-going through our dumpsters, looking at boxes to see [which designers] we’re carrying,” Naparstek says. “It’s really kind of a dog-eat-dog, really ugly business.”

CURRENT OBSESSION: “I’m an obsessive collector,” Naparstek says. “Although, like my fashion sense, my collections change every two years.” Lately, “shiny, pointy metal” things have caught his attention-such as heavy silver jewelry featuring classic tattoo designs (pictured here, the Lucky 7 ring, $310) by Matt Booth, and old tattoo machines from industry icon Aaron Cain. What’s the allure? “They became popular with bikers and then became couture,” he says.

DESIGN ICON: “A favorite designer is like a favorite movie,” Naparstek says. “I can’t just pick one.” Stashed in his closet is a vintage Johnny Rotten Sex Pistols jacket and bondage pants by Vivienne Westwood. Though he’s not such a fan of her contemporary style, he says, “she helped create a lot of culture, like the new romantic period and punk rock look.”

PRIZED POSSESSION: His motorcycle, a meticulously kept BMW Stiletto: “I want to be able to give it to my kids in the same condition,” he says.

BAG OF THE MOMENT: A black messenger bag, with molded handgun relief, by Vlieger & Vandam (pictured here in a pink knife pattern, $338). “I took it to City Hall the other day and nearly got strip-searched,” he says. “They had me up against the wall and everything.”

GO-TO SHOPS: “I really admire someone who brings fashion-forward stuff to Chicago,” says Naparstek. Local favorites include Michelle Tan, Gamma Player, Hejfina, Rotofugi, and the minimal design house Luminaire which he says is “full of fresh ideas.”

5 Rules of Style

1 | Even if you’re dressing down, always wear great shoes.

2 | A good tailor is better than an expensive suit.

3 | Guys, don’t wear shorts unless you absolutely have to.

4 | Sandals should never be worn with socks (“Do I even need to say that?” he asks).

5 | Dressing well doesn’t need to be expensive-creativity is the best reflection of style.

 

For Bonnie & Clyde’s, Naparstek secured Chicago exclusives of designers like Horiyoshi III. Imitation by other boutiques isn’t the sincerest form of flattery, he says- it’s a deal breaker. “If another store starts carrying a designer,” he declares, “I have no choice but to drop them.” His biggest coup so far is Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia and his line Cosa Nostra: this Sebelia-designed men’s leather jacket retails for $1,700. 1751 W. Division St.; 773-235-2680

 

 

Photography: Lisa Predko and Blackbox Studios, Inc.

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