Rush Street is getting fancy. The impressive glass-and-metal building at 935 North Rush Street, which currently houses Urban Outfitters, has just snagged two ritzy new tenants. First, Christian Dior signed a lease, anticipating a 2016 opening, and now Versace has grabbed the building’s other retail space. And Urban Outfitters will be going the way of all things hipster—moving to a bigger storefront, mere blocks away.
The Dior boutique is the brand’s first boutique in Chicago—and Dior’s decision to do the whole Midwestern thing marks an important movement in Chicago’s luxury retail scene. Versace, on the other hand, has been here before, but things didn’t work out: in 1986, Chicago’s first Versace boutique opened on Oak Street, only to close 14 years later.
The 935 North Rush Street building’s current orange-metal, all-glass aesthetic may look like it was designed with Urban Outfitter’s kitschy hipster warehouse vibe in mind, but it’s actually a architecturally important piece of Chicago history. The building was designed by Bertrand Goldberg (most famous for Marina City), and known as Walton Gardens when it was finished in 1956. Back then, the top floor housed Universal Recordings Corporation, and it wasn’t unusual to run into powerhouse musicians strolling those halls. When Walton Gardens was build, it brought a splash of modernism to the less-luxe neighborhood; today, it’s still stunning, but Urban’s retail presence makes the site feel distinctly young. Given the building’s incredible transparency, it will be interesting to see how the more grown-up aesthetic of Versace and Dior functions into their new settings.
And Chicago’s high-end retail boom doesn’t end there. Crain’s reports that luxurious lingerie brand La Perla is coming to the Gold Coast, too. And the womenswear brand Rebecca Minkoff is planning to open a tech-centric store at 106 East Oak Street—think touch screen mirrors and wearable technology. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Minkoff’s decision was partially swayed by a McKinsey & Co. report that anticipated Chicago would be one of the world’s top 25 “global luxury capitals” by 2025. This year’s luxury retail boom certainly supports that theory.
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