New Barneys on Oak Street. Is Bigger Really Better? Well…Yes.

April 17, 2009 • Shopping


I had to check out the new Barneys New York on Oak Street on its opening day in Chicago yesterday. Right next door was the the old store, windows whitened out and shut down. I bowed my head, payed my respects and excitedly ran across the street to the new place!

The warm open space looked huge … the place was abuzz. They were passing out champagne and donuts. Yummy. I had to grab one of the mini donuts to get my shopping sugar level up! I passed on the champagne to avoid a frenzied while tipsy purchase. I noticed women in avant-garde black attire, men who looked prettier and dressed better than me and I wondered where these people came from? I realized it was a sort of Barney's fan club. Anyone whoever shopped Barneys had to check it out on opening day.

The warm wood and curved displays still looked like Barneys …only a bigger Barneys. Do we really need an entire floor of handbags with huge real estate dedicated to Balenciaga, Lanvin and Bottega Veneta? I say yes. Along with handbags the main floor was completely taken up by jewelry and accessories.

The cosmetics department is downstairs in the new Barneys. I look forward to the privacy of getting makeup applied there. I had a sad flashback of the old place, where you can wave to your make-up artist from the shoes or handbag departments, which I'll kind of miss…as well as the natural outdoor lighting which is important for makeup. But now I'm over it!

Then I went up the center stairs to see the women's apparel! I realized the stairs were not as deep or curved as the old Barneys, but they functioned so much better as I was able to take shorter steps and slide on smooth stone as I hurriedly flew up the stairs.

Then I saw it. There is was before me. Half of an entire floor is dedicated to shoes! Shoes are my passion. I took a deep breath and toured this museum of shoes.

Around the corner was the high end designer apparel on curvy displays. I had to look out the window to check if this was really a square building? Next floor up was what I call the "boutique-y" stuff. One full floor. And the next two floors were all menswear. I didn't really look except at some of the men shopping.

On the top floor is Fred's, the restaurant. White linen and dark wood with peacock blue sheers framed tall windows and a view. I liked the bar. I can imagine getting a drink there after a day of shopping to review an awesome purchase or two.

I took the elevator down. Five floors plus the main floor plus the basement of cosmetics. That's seven floors of fashion fun! I hope people tour this fashion spectacle whenever they are in Chicago. It sure beats Niketown!

—Carol Calacci

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