Michelle Tan | Boutique of the Week | Chicago Reader

Michelle Tan 

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1872 N. Damen

773-252-1888

A long crack runs across the concrete floor in Michelle Tan's new boutique, but she doesn't mind. "Life is not perfect," says the 29-year-old designer, and neither are her garments, which she generally likes to leave with a few unfinished seams. Because Tan sticks with basic colors like black, white, cream, and beige, she lets herself go crazy with texture--sewing a couple dozen folded squares of material cut out with pinking shears to the hem of a skirt, say, or constructing a jacket out of fabric made from clumps of pale wool and bits of cashmere. Simpler pieces always have a twist: a classic little black dress comes with a bib that the wearer can tie up, down, or over one shoulder, and an A-line skirt has a panel of pleats in front. Tan's stark all-white space emphasizes the small size of her collection, but Tan says she likes to limit the numbers of each design (though she will do special orders) and is always adding new ones. Really ornate pieces can run as high as $1,000, but most come in the $200-$300 range. The store also stocks a few other designers' items, including sweaters made from bright recycled cashmere by Mothballs and a small selection of jewelry and handbags. By September, Tan also plans to have a section devoted to brand-new designers. She started holding fashion shows and shopping her collections right out of school and spent several years sinking money into her work before seeing any returns; now she wants to help other talented youngsters get a leg up.

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

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