Still hibernating? We’re over it. For starters, toss those sad long johns and visit the Gold Coast’s sexiest new neighbor, Agent Provocateur. The British lingerie outpost ushers in warmer weather with racks of racy treats. Men can suit up with something a bit more buttoned-down from Paul Stuart, which recently relocated to a stately 1920s townhouse just a stone’s throw down the street. And while you’re there, don’t miss the brand new Barneys on the corner of Oak and Rush. We touched base with these three must-sees and took stock of what they have to offer. Pack your pocketbook and hail a cab; here’s the rundown.
107 E. Oak St.; 312-640-2650, paulstuart.com
Opened: October 10, 2008
About: Up until recently, this New York transplant was tucked into the Hancock building, wrestling with an “out of sight, out of mind” problem. So they traded 22,000 square feet for 6,000 and moved to Oak Street. The new digs really fit with the company DNA, according to store manager Blake Johnson. Paul Stuart has been dressing the corner office population from head to toe (socks, too) for 70 years, and they’ve tweaked cut and color to please a Chicago crowd.
Why bother: You know that dapper exec sitting across the conference room? The one wearing the spun-cashmere suit? He shops at Paul Stuart. They’ve nailed the basics, so they can focus on the details that set you apart—from hand-painted cufflinks to pure silk pocket squares. Opt for their made-to-measure service if you like everything just so. PS: Young professionals, ask about Phineas Cole, Paul Stuart’s take on “edgy.” Think skinny ties, hip collars, and youthful hues.
Take home: Silk-cashmere sweaters and enzyme-washed cotton slacks, topped off with the perfect fedora.
47 E. Oak St.; 312-335-0229, agentprovocateur.com
Opened: December 8, 2008
About: Launched in London in 1994, the company literally marched on that city’s fashion week, as a not-so-subtle statement against all things stodgy. Founder Joseph Corré is the son of designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols ex-manager Malcolm McLaren, which explains the punk-rock edge to some of AP’s products. They’ve set up shop all over the world, and Chicago was the natural next choice for Corré, who’s convinced his favorite kind of customer lives here: “A woman who is high up in a corporation, and under her suit she knows she’s wearing something really hot. That gives her confidence,” he says.
Why bother: The boudoir-style shop with its infamously blush-inducing window displays merits a quick visit, even if you don’t plan to stay. But you might as well, since they claim to have the best-fitting lingerie around. Be warned: Their staff—sporting the famous pink housecoat Westwood designed—might coax your inner sexpot out of hiding.
Take home: “Virginal” floral knickers (read: panties) with delicate lace, and bright-neon nighties.
Photography: (Paul Stuart) Eric Hausman; (Agent Provocateur) Courtesy of Agent Provocateur