Chicago Confidential. A New Yorker’s Fashion Perspective. Part 2. Milwaukee Ave.: Two Boutiques.

December 13, 2007 • Shopping

It’s been said that Chicago is known as the “Second City”
for good reason. It’s known to be the
city that always scurries catch up to the ever-current, ever-changing NY
scene—to no avail. That exactly what I
assumed about the fashion scene there, which to me appears to trade style for
comfort due to low temperatures, harsh winds, and lots of snow. I didn’t see too many stylish women—except
the occasional college student bracing the cold in a velvet dress, heels and no

Enter Milwaukee Ave. in the Bucktown/Wicker Park
neighborhood. Yes, Chicago is known for its pricey boutiques like Saks and
Neiman Marcus on Michigan Ave., but if you’re looking for something equally
luxurious, a little more NY mod with a slightly more funky, less pricey
quality, Milwaukee Ave. is the way to go. Four boutiques on this cosmopolitan corner have the quintessential NY
boutique meets functional fab Chicago feel with the NY boutique feel and cool
eclectic fashion, then Milwaukee Ave. is it.


After lunch at The Bongo Room, a trend local eatery known
for its brunch specials (Chicagoans are CRAZY about brunch!), Second City Style managing editor,
Carol and I breezed through the shops on the other side of the street. I was thoroughly pleased with the results
and felt a little bit closer to home.

Below, I scope out two of the four.

1509 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Eskell was opened by high school pals Kelly Whitesell and
Elizabeth Del Castillo a little over 2 years ago after Kelly returned to
Chicago from New York. Since then, the
burgeoning boutique has found a place among the Chicago fashion scene, fronting
feminine pieces with lots of ruffles, paisley prints, and peasant tops in warm
tones of red, beige, and yellow that create an airy vintage vibe. Although I don’t really go those flirty
flowy pieces, I did like a few of the black bird print dresses and the
occasional jeweled neckline jumper that ensconced a evening look of the Sixties
and Seventies. The great thing about Eskell is that it
features flirty pieces by the designers themselves as well as contemporary
separates from other brands like striped pencil skirts from Luella,
Hayden-Harnett wrap dresses, and an H. Frediksson empire-waist flutter sleeve


Bag It: Eskell Black Bird Geneva Dress. $ 280.00.


1529 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

A strong divergence from a
flirty Eskell, Hejfina is definitely the most crisp New York of all the Chicago
boutiques. I immediately noticed this
when Carol and I spotted a modern, strongly cut Abaete dress in navy and
black. One of the sales girls wore wide
leg trousers and a cropped plaid wrap around coat. She remarked, “When I lived in New York, I used to take out the
garbage in heels and here in Chicago, I can walk around in my pajamas.” Ahhh, the strong differences between
America’s biggest cities. If you want
to go NY in Chicago, you go to Hejfina.

Owner Heijy Choy chooses
constructed, but statement-y dresses, with functional color blocked solid tops
on the side for her eponymous boutique. One thing Choy has said she doesn’t do—floral prints. This boutique is about mod function, not
about femininity. The store features
well-designed pieces by well-known indie designers including the ever so
popular grey and gold metal dress by Alexander Wang already snapped up by
celebs like Nicole Scherzinger and Audrina Patridge.


Hejfina carries Belgium newcomer
Tim Van Steenbergen’s graphic Dusty Scotch dress, Alexander Herchcovitch’s
billowy tops and capes, Vena Cava’s silk blouses, and Vanessa Bruno’s puff
sleeve blouses, pleated dresses, and double layered mini skirts.

Added bonus: The space carries
installations by budding Chicago artists and custom-made furniture.

Bag It: Tsumori Chisato black
velvet stripes and chevrons dress. $444.00


In Part 3, I look at two more of my favorites. Stay tuned!

-Simona Kogan

Photos: Citysearch,,


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