Language | Boutique of the Week | Chicago Reader


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1537 N. Milawukee


After working in finance for eight years, Natalie Barber says she realized that "the one thing I loved every morning was getting dressed." Last fall, toying with the idea of opening a boutique, she went to New York Fashion Week on what was supposed to be a recon mission. But the trip was so inspiring she started placing orders before she even had a space to sell them in. Fortunately she found a primo Wicker Park storefront rather quickly, where she opened Language last month. Barber's filled the shop with goods from small designers from all over the world--including some stuff that's new to Chicago, such as blouses by Lundgren & Windinge and handbags by Rachel Nasvik. Everything has some special detail: A supersoft skinny brown leather jacket by Quebecois designers Mackage features ruffled lapels threaded with wire so you can change their shape. A Victorian high-necked, nude-colored silk blouse by Sunner has three strips of lace inset into the back. A Jalda clutch covered in pebbly stingray skin unfolds to become a bag. Like other high-end shops in the area, some of the prices made me gulp--leather obi belts by Ama are $165; a black silk dress by Debra Rodman is $310--but Barber thinks her wares are worth it. "Fashion is written off as shallow," she says, "but it's a legitimate platform for self-expression." And we can always wait for the sale.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mireya Acierto.


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