Christian Louboutin’s first free-standing boutique in Chicago has opened at 58 E. Oak Street. Housed in the historic Esquire Theater, the 1,700 square foot space presents customers with two unique shopping experiences. The two story boutique offers a wide a selection of Louboutin’s signature red sole shoes as well as handbags for women on the ground floor, while the brand’s men’s collection resides on the second level.
The design concept for the Chicago location is an extension of the designer’s Miami Design District boutique, which introduced the box-within-box concept with its opening in 2009. Customers enter into a double height gallery space, which reveals two one-way mirror boxes stacked on top of each other with the bottom box slightly skewed. The shopping experience is contained within the mirrored walls inside the box, while the gallery space allows for those on the outside to observe the activity inside the retail space. The brass tiles are hand-folded and photo-etched, the designs taking inspiration from Chicago’s own Louis Sullivan’s architecture.
Christian Louboutin once again collaborated with New York based architecture firm 212box. Finishes in the women’s area include elements unique to Louboutin’s stores all over the world, such as signature niche walls and red carpet, which have been a statement in his boutiques since the opening of the original store in Paris in 1992. An antique tin panel cash wrap and an introduction of new bag displays accommodate the brand’s growing selection of handbags. Design elements in the men’s space include cobbled leather wall paneling, and a cowhide border detail on the red carpet, which were originally conceived for the first men’s boutique in Paris.
Christian Louboutin Chicago opened with new arrivals of shoes and handbags from the Spring Summer 2013 collection. Graphic lines and shapes find a voice among women’s shoes and bags with styles such as June, its classical point toe combined with asymmetrical straps, to create a striking silhouette. Following this trend, the Farida handbag collection, which was introduced during the Fall 2012 season, is updated with a sharp combination of muted mineral tones and this season’s brightest shades to create an architectural shape and design for this must have bag.
Ethnic and tribal influences, add a layer of exoticism and focus the attention on artisanship. The use of python painted with Masai inspired designs, as seen on the Zoulou platform, as well as the uniquely dyed African Bazin fabric, which is used to craft shoes and bags throughout the collection, highlights the designer’s love for travel which is often interpreted in his designs.
58 E Oak Street
– Carol Calacci
Photos: Jeff Shear