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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


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