Fashion labels come and go, but for the past 15 years one Chicago name has been synonymous with the highest of high style: Ikram.
“It couldn’t just be another store,” says Ikram Goldman of her iconic Huron Street boutique, which melds the worlds of fashion and design with a stunning red façade and hyper-stylized displays.
Would it be overstating things to say that Ikram Goldman is Chicago fashion? Not by much. A protégé of the legendary Joan Weinstein at Ultimo, Goldman made a statement of her own in 2001, opening an eponymous boutique on Rush Street. Fifteen years and one relocation later, Ikram is one of the world’s most renowned centers of style, with an elite clientele of power players who travel from near and far like pilgrims to a fashion shrine. As Goldman celebrates the 15th anniversary of the boutique, the famously passionate fashionista offers a summary of its history in a series of bons mots.
Style storyteller. “I started Ikram because I wanted to curate a story that was not being told anywhere in Chicago. It was a place where I felt people would want to gather.” Now and then. “When I first started, the amount of collections I saw was minuscule compared to what I see now, because [now] everyone wants to be a fashion designer. So I can actually curate in a much more profoundly interesting way.” The first store. “Our accountant said, ‘You don’t need [more] than 2,000 square feet.’ Our Rush Street store was 5,000 square feet—and we outgrew it within a year.” Seeing red. “We didn’t want the façade to look modern, but we wanted it to have a modern feel. And we saw this slab of red metal, and we thought, This is it—this is exactly what we want.” Think pink. “One of my favorite moments at Ikram was a midnight [candlelit] dinner we hosted for the band Pink Martini after their performance at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We invited 10 friends with the band and sat here until almost 5 in the morning, where we ate, drank, played music, sang, tried on clothes, and had the best time.” In it together. “I take on these [young designers] who really just want to be recognized, and we just go together.” Creature features. “When I first saw the collection Creatures of the Wind presented in New York, I thought, These are two kids that are submerged in their culture.” Girl crush. “Rodarte aren’t just designers—they’re creating cultural movements. They speak the language of the moment.” Show me more. “Thakoon [Panichgul] was the first person who ever interviewed me and wrote about me, for Harper’s Bazaar, so we became instant friends. We had dinner and he said, ‘I’m thinking about doing [a line of] sweatshirts and sweaters, blah blah blah,’ and I said, ‘Really? That’s nice. But show me what you really got.’ So he made a collection of 20 pieces and sent them to me. I bought every one. They were flawless.” For the archives. “I pull one to three pieces per season for [my personal] archive. Original Alexander McQueen, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe… It’s like art; I invest in them. I’d love to have them someday in a place where they’re curated properly—and they will be.” 15 E. Huron St., 312-587-1000