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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Joan Weinstein
Ikram Goldman learned her trade from indomitable Chicago fashion retailer Joan Weinstein, the founder of Ultimo.
In choosing Weinstein as a mentor, Goldman honed her craft beside the best. At Ultimo, Weinstein introduced Chicagoans to designers such as Azzedine Alaïa, Dolce & Gabbana, Sonia Rykiel, Jil Sander, and Giorgio Armani. When Goldman first walked through Ultimo’s doors, she was Ikram Saman, a single woman in her 20s. As a teen, her family had relocated to Chicago from Israel so that her mother could receive cancer treatment at the University of Chicago. Early on, Ikram found work as a waitress. But it didn’t take long for her to discover the high-end shopping district on Oak Street: She worked at the children’s store Clown, then at Bottega Contessa, a nearby women’s clothier, before joining the staff of Ultimo in 1990.

Those who knew Goldman then remember her as a driven, outgoing, hard-working sales associate who quickly built a strong client base. “Joan would comment that [Ikram] was rather tireless,” recalls John Jones, who served as vice president at Ultimo before opening the Oak Street men’s store George Greene in 2001.

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