Better Things To Do
Photos by Tyler Lundberg
Credited with creating the “perfect work dress,” MM.Lafleur opened a permanent showroom in Chicago’s historic River North area last December following the success of a handful of pop-ups and online sales. The showroom, one of just three nationwide, offers a fresh shopping approach with one-hour stylist appointments to help women craft killer work wardrobes. At 5,000-sq.-ft, this is MM.Lafleur’s most ambitious location to date. It features new services like tailoring, a bar, and manicure and blow-out stations, which goes along with the brand’s philosophy of streamlining the retail experience for the professional woman who has #BetterThingsToDo than shop. The experience begins with a shopper filling out a survey and arriving to find an oversized, white-brick-walled dressing room pre-stocked with pieces just for her. She then systematically builds a wardrobe with chic separates through the guidance of a stylist.
Erik Valenzuela, MM’s associate director of store planning and construction, says the team immediately fell for the neighborhood’s architecture and ambience, and was inspired by its “elegant craftsmanship of the handcrafted façades, hardscape stone pathways and grand entrances.” The store’s exterior maintains the local historical feel while it adds gooseneck lighting, double-entry doors and brass plaques. Inside, the goal was to make the shopper feel like she was walking into MM’s warm, upscale home, Valenzuela says. The space features a restored terrazzo foyer and staircase, gorgeous custom millwork, handcrafted herringbone floors and luxe honed Calacatta Tucci marble accents, plus added details like potted plants, quotes from favorite customers, good reads, rich velvet and leather seating, and framed photos celebrating the brand’s history.
Valenzuela created the inviting atmosphere by “observing everything retail stores do now and flipping them on their head. No racks of clothing, and no loud music. It is a clubhouse for women who hate shopping and want to feel like they are being pampered. One of my favorite moments was during set-up. A UPS man came in to deliver a package and said quizzically, ‘What is this place, a spa?’ We took it as a compliment.”