It’s hard to know which moment proved most meaningful for Chicago retailer Ikram Goldman recently.
Was it winning the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Legend of Fashion Award during which designers Jason Wu, Kate and Laura Mulleavy and Irini Arakas, and T editor Sally Singer came to pay their regards? Or was it awarding $55,000 in scholarships and paid internships she orchestrated to students? Perhaps it was celebrating her boutique’s 10th anniversary in high style, throwing a lavish party for some 800 guests including top clients Desirée Rogers and Mellody Hobson (with date, filmmaker George Lucas) and designers Narciso Rodriguez, Thakoon Panichgul and others in tow.
Regardless, it appeared an all-out love fest for the upscale retailer known for being the heir apparent to Midwest fashion maven Joan Weinstein of Ultimo, building a high-profile clientele at her Gold Coast boutique Ikram and for styling First Lady Michelle Obama.
The celebration began when some 600 guests filled a giant white tent at Chicago’s Millennium Park for the School of the Art Institute’s 77th annual student fashion show. Creations by sophomores, juniors and seniors ranged from avant-garde and conceptual to elegant wearable sportswear and neon streetwear. Highlights included the cream and green knitwear by Soh Park, likely influenced by fashion department chairman Nick Cave; the romantic separates by Erin Pianetto, who received a J. Crew internship and acknowledgement from audience member Jenna Lyons, and the dramatic, sophisticated all-black silhouettes of Jacqueline Kim, who received a one-year paid internship at Proenza Schouler.
Other student awards included a $25,000 Eunice W. Johnson fellowship to Liz Patelski, a one-year full-tuition scholarship from Swarovski (the event’s sponsor) to Ana Leon, a $30,000 anonymous scholarship to Alena Savinova, and a $25,000 Ikram and Joshua Goldman scholarship to Macie Francis.
Prior to the student awards, Singer, the editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, introduced Goldman.
Wu, who traveled into town for the fashion show and Goldman’s 10th anniversary party, said Goldman was one of his earliest and most ardent supporters. “She discovered my work very early on,” he said. “She’s always one of the first to come backstage [after his fashion shows] and congratulate me.”
Goldman also helped spotlight Wu’s work and catapult his career by personally selecting his white one-shoulder long dress for Obama’s Inaugural gown.
Rodarte’s Laura Mulleavy also credited Goldman as being a pivotal figure. “Since 2005 she’s seen every piece of clothing we’ve made,” Mulleavy said. “She trusts Kate and I to follow our hearts as designers. She’s here to cheer you on. She’s someone we have an honest relationship with. It’s rare.”
Wearing all black, a large lizard broach and her trademark crimson lipstick, Goldman thanked her husband, Josh Goldman, her in-laws Jean and Steven Goldman, and dedicated the award to Weinstein, who hired Goldman at Ultimo in the Nineties and served as her mentor and business consultant until Weinstein’s death in late 2009. Goldman said she owes her aesthetic and retail skills to Weinstein. “I still hear her voice guiding me every day,” Goldman said.
The retailer’s time in the spotlight isn’t over yet. Goldman looks to reach another milestone in June when she is expected to unveil a new megasized Ikram on Huron Street featuring an upstairs cafe and art gallery.