Photography: Clayton Hauck
Located on the fourth floor of the Gold Coast brownstone that also houses Jil Sander and David Yurman, Gallery Aesthete, true to its name, feels like an exhibition space. The shop’s highly expressive owner, 42-year-old Stephen Naparstek, blazed onto Chicago’s boutique scene in 2007 with the (now-closed) rocker-chic Bonnie & Clyde’s in Wicker Park, where he lives, and debuted his second act in October.
The elevator opens onto a 2,000-square-foot space with molten-metal triptychs on the walls; tables are topped with clothes and art publications, including an issue of Visionaire with pubic hair adorning its cover. Comme des Garçons kilts ($888) and Ann Demeulemeester waistcoats ($1,200) dangle from question-mark-shaped hangers on iron racks.
Naparstek, standing by one of these racks, wears a Boris Bidjan Saberi painter’s smock buttoned askew. As he shows off a shirt with imitation hair sprouting from the shoulders (he has a thing for hair), it’s clear he caters to those interested in unique forms of self-expression.
“I have a nontraditional view of beauty, where ugly can be beautiful,” he explains. “What I’m creating here is a representation of myself.”
Gallery Aesthete, 46 E. Oak St., 4th floor; 312-265-1883; galleryaesthete.com