Byline: Elaine Glusac

CHICAGO — To accommodate its growing product range, Chanel has opened an 8,800-square-foot flagship here in the Drake Hotel that is 35 percent larger than the original unit, which was housed on the opposite side of North Michigan Avenue.
The new store, which opened last Tuesday at 935 North Michigan Avenue, occupies a prime location on the Magnificent Mile and, like the company’s flagships in New York and Beverly Hills, has a jewelry boutique and private salon for special events.
“Everything is visible,” said Arie Kopelman, president and chief operating officer of Chanel. “There was a bit of hide-and-seek activity in our old store.”
Calling Chicago a “key market,” Kopelman said he expects the store to generate sales of up to 50 percent more than the prior location, due to its improved design and increased size.
Designed by French architect Christian Gallion, the boutique has black lacquered and mirrored walls, beige carpeting and limestone floors. Four rooms showcase ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories and cosmetics.
The 800-square-foot fine jewelry boutique is Chanel’s ninth in the U.S. and has a separate entrance off the main foyer.
For the store’s opening festivities, Chanel imported 25 pieces from its fall/winter couture collection, which were modeled informally during a reception with 60 guests.
“It’s important to see haute couture up close to touch it and appreciate what it’s all about,” said Barbara Cirkva, Chanel’s senior vice president of fashion.
Chanel’s investment in Chicago reflects this city’s high-end retail boom that includes a new Salvatore Ferragamo store that opened last March, an expanded Tiffany & Co. to open in November and a multilevel Polo Ralph Lauren store to open in August, all on Michigan Avenue.
A new Prada boutique is planned on posh Oak Street around the corner from Chanel.
“There’s a tremendous vibrancy here,” Kopelman said. “If everyone is trading up and making significant real-estate investments, something is going on.”
He said convention and tourist traffic, along with the city’s fashion-savvy residents, make Chicago ripe for business.
The Michigan Avenue flagship is one of 14 freestanding Chanel boutiques in the U.S., but the only Chanel unit in the Midwest.

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