Ikram Goldman: From Dressing Michelle Obama to Opening a New Store

THE DIVA’S NEW DIRECTION: With a celebrated eye and an imperious style, Ikram Goldman turned her high-end Chicago shop into a quasi salon for the rich and well dressed. Now, even as reports surface that she’s no longer outfitting her most famous client, she’s making her boldest move yet—opening a 16,000-square-foot megaboutique that challenges her personalized sales formula

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Francisco Costa, Ikram and Joshn Goldman
Francisco Costa, the creative director of Calvin Klein (left), with Ikram and Josh Goldman in 2009
When Joan Weinstein died in November 2009, those who attended the funeral at Fourth Presbyterian Church and the reception at The Casino, a private Gold Coast club, say Goldman paid tribute to her friend and mentor in flawless style. “Ikram handled the entire event with great dignity,” recalls longtime local publicist and Ultimo shopper Nancy Berman.

Goldman has never shied away from crediting her teacher, who lent her ear and her expertise to every detail when the first Ikram store opened in 2001. “I learned everything from Joan: relationships, creativity, styling,” she told Chicago in 2006. Michelle Stein, the New York–based president of the designer clothing manufacturer and sales agency Aeffe USA and a 30-year fashion veteran, remembers Goldman’s unfailingly loving treatment of Weinstein and her respect for her mentor’s stature in the industry. “I can hear the two of them now—they would banter back and forth during appointments, laughing, debating, joking with one another,” Stein reminisces, describing how the pair decided which pieces to bring back to Chicago. “They both always zeroed in on the most avant-garde piece in any collection and were never afraid to buy it.”


Our 2006 profile of Goldman

Stein believes Goldman’s passion and fearlessness will carry the new Ikram in the same way those traits helped define the original. “If you step out there and take a risk, people are going to flow in,” she says. And with Weinstein’s voice still echoing in her memory, what does Stein think the mentor would say to her protégée now? “She’d tell her, ‘This is your dream; go with your instincts.’”

This spring, as Goldman transitions from an intimate shop with every zipper in eyeshot to a megaboutique, she has to make the leap largely on her own. “Because it’s her, it’ll work,” predicts Fred Latsko. “Her customers will go there no matter what.” Gregg Zgonena is similarly confident. “The store, her relationships, they’ve stood the test of time because there’s a foundation of quality. And for Chicago to have a multibrand store that’s diverse but still has a specific point of view and can hold its own against stores like Colette and 10 Corso Como—that’s a big deal.”

“She should look at her new store as an opportunity to start fresh,” says Eric Himel. “If there’s someone close to her who’s not afraid to be honest, they should say: ‘Ikram, you know what, you’ve burned a lot of bridges. Now’s the time to turn it around.’”


Photograph: Patrick McMullan



3 years ago
Posted by jkatze

'cache'? I suspect the writer was aiming for 'cachet' as opposed to a quantity of hidden things.

3 years ago
Posted by Ikenani

I don't know what the big deal is. I visited the Ikram store once when I was out in Chicago for a wedding. I walked into the store and a) couldn't tell who worked there as the employees seemed to have a non-chalance about them and b) when I did find an employee, he couldn't tell me where I could find the Rodarte dress displayed in the window. I thought the amount of apathy from the more experienced employees was surprising and I work and shop in Beverly Hills! This store would be a dime a dozen in New York and Los Angeles and I couldn't care less who this woman dressed.

3 years ago
Posted by CDGlover

Funny how the only people who have anything "nice" to say about Ikram are her "friends". I wonder what they would have to say off the record. I knew her a long time ago before the Ultimo years and she was then the same bully she is now leveraging her "power" and stepping on anyone that gets in her way or doesn't play by her rules. And from what I hear now, those that she entertains and fraternizes with only participate because they are afraid of her wrath. And for the record, Weinstein was the real talent and visionary. Money can't buy you taste.

3 years ago
Posted by pfagen

Can you verify the designer of the new store? I thought I read that it was Mario Aranda of Cielo Vivo. Is that true?

3 years ago
Posted by lolab.

Yawn,Ikram is such a bore!!! From someone who has known her for many, many years. Everything CDGLOVER wrote is the truth, down to every picture with her hair pulled back, red lips and high collars. She has and always will be a Joan Weinstein wannbe. The only difference being that Joan had a soul.

3 years ago
Posted by lolab.

Sorry, not "only" difference! There will only ever be one Joan Weinstein and Ikram will never come close.

3 years ago
Posted by WhoKnew

Most of what I've read here not only speaks volume, but it speaks TRUTH. I've known Ikram since the early 80's . . . boy could I tell you stories. The "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all" side is screaming to come out. But for now, I'll zip it. But she once said before her marriage to Mr. Goldman, that he was her financial ticket to making something of her life.

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