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Belle of the Bauble
Brian Dukerschein | Photo: Kristyna Archer | April 2, 2013
Chicago’s hidden gem for one-of-a-kind accessories opens a downtown location.
For the last decade, Laurie Davis has reigned as Chicago’s queen of vintage. Her shop LuLu’s at the Belle Kay (3862 N. Lincoln Ave., 773.404.5858, lulusbellekay.com) is the go-to destination for socialites in search of costume jewelry, hats, handbags, furs and frocks dating back to the 1920s, and the quality of her designer assortment of gala gowns—which frequently includes designers Balenciaga, Bob Mackie, YSL and Halston—is legendary. Now Davis is expanding her reach with a second store, LuLu’s on the Avenue, which opened last month on the third floor of the 900 North Michigan Shops.
While there are no plans for the new store to carry dresses, shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories will be impressed by Davis’ vast selection, which she has amassed during more than 30 years’ worth of estate sales, auctions and private sellers. Mixed in among the vintage baubles are pieces from contemporary jewelry designers Iradj Moini, Larry Vrba and Roni Blanshay, as well as Davis’ new line of jewelry, Signature LuLu’s. The result of a collaboration with a New York-based metalsmith and jewelry designer, Signature LuLu’s consists of statement necklaces created by fusing vintage jewelry centerpieces from Davis’ collection with chains or collars. “To me, they’re like pieces of artwork,” she says of the line. And just in time for springtime garden parties, downtown shoppers now have access to her incredible collection of hats, which includes everything from feathered fascinators and 1920s decorative headbands to creations by Chicago-based milliner John Koch. “We do a big hat business at Derby time and for hat luncheons,” says Davis. “I mean, where else are you going to find something so fabulous?”
Knowing that her customers have a penchant for exclusivity, Davis made room for a mini Laudi Vidni design studio inside LuLu’s on the Avenue. The Chicago-based handbag store, co-founded by Davis’ longtime friend and client Laura Kofoid and located in Lincoln Park, allows discerning shoppers to choose from a wide range of leathers, linings and hardware options when creating a bag. “At LuLu’s at the Belle Kay, my bag business is limited because I only sell evening bags [to complement] evening gowns,” she says. “Down here, I felt that Laura would be a great addition for two reasons: They’re not evening bags, so that draws a different woman, and they’re custom-made. All the products here in the store are unique.” One-off handbags and bijoux? We’re ready to put a ring on it!