Over the past year, retail has taken a battering in Chicago, as it has elsewhere. Oblivious to that trend is Barneys New York, which, in April, opens a new, improved, and considerably larger store (from 52,000 square feet to 90,000) across from its old digs in the Gold Coast. “We opened our store in Chicago 17 years ago, and it’s always been a great market for us,” says Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys. “We got to the point where the existing store was an efficient operation, but it didn’t necessarily offer the kind of Barneys experience that you can now get in Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, or Dallas, where there are larger, more luxurious floor plates.”
David New, Barneys’ exec-utive vice president of creative services, wanted the store to reflect Chicago’s architectural history, not just copy the New York flagship. “On the exterior, you have a fairly classical building that pays tribute to the Louis Sullivan school, and the great emporiums that were built in the late 19th– early 20th-century Chicago,” Doonan says. “It’s in the tradition of that architecture, with a slightly modernized version.” The design firm Jeffrey Hutchison & Associates, which collaborated on stores in Tokyo, Boston, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, created the Chicago concept, which has an open floor plan and geometric staircases visible from the street through the glass front.
Inside, the shoe salon will expand from 1,200 square feet to 4,000, featuring designers such as Christian Louboutin, Givenchy, and Balenciaga. In women’s fashion, more square footage will be devoted to Lanvin, Givenchy, and Bottega Veneta. Barneys’ exclusive Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle display is also coming to Chicago: It’s a series of futuristic glass columns where customers can sniff different scents.
New to the store, too, will be men’s tailoring and a Co-Op—the younger, less expensive version of Barneys—on the third and fourth floors. (The standalone Lincoln Park Co-Op will remain.) The cherry on top is the Fred’s restaurant in the penthouse, including a terrace with lake views for outdoor seating. Keep an eye out for Doonan’s famous windows, which will feature portraits of Barack Obama drawn by schoolchildren, to be auctioned off to benefit local charities.
WHERE 15 E. Oak St.; 312-587-1700, barneys.com
PARKING Metered street parking is difficult.
FEATURES 4,000- sq.-ft. shoe salon and a Fred’s restaurant with outdoor seating
QUIRKY BONUS A concierge who can schedule everything from Broadway in Chicago tickets to transport
Illustration: Lovisa Burfitt