Fashion and nightlife go together like Tom Ford and Gucci—before the split, that is—and now Chicago has its very own nightclub striking a pose. Mannequin (306 N. Hal-sted St.), in the old Rive Gauche space, aims for an haute couture air with eight fashion-forward window displays installed throughout the bi- level 10,000-square-foot club. Clothes by the likes of Hermès, Prada, and Yves Saint Laurent hang on what the resident window designer, Maria Mandis, calls the “Rolls-Royce of realistic mannequins,” created by Rootstein and Patina V., suppliers to upscale retailers such as Chanel and Bergdorf Goodman.
“We went for the wow factor,” says Mandis, who plans to update the displays every six to eight weeks. “The challenge was to design every window so that it would assault the senses and at the same time inspire the desire to possess a new look.”
That chic, consumer- driven vibe defines the club, which bears a striking resemblance to South Beach nightspots. DJs spin everything from mash-ups to house, with Bam Bam Buddha accompanying on drums. A mezzanine overlooks a high-tech dance floor with a distinctively art deco flair. Mirrored tabletops reflect the sparkling chandeliers, swaying palm trees, and reproductions of deco-era paintings, and everywhere—everywhere—are splashes of purple.
As for the clientele, the 20-somethings in short skirts perched atop the ultralush white leather booths manage to compete with their mannequin counterparts, eye candy for eye candy.
“The theme is ’seduced by fashion,’” Mandis says. Consider us wooed.
Photography: Chris Guillen