On a recent cold December night, the new Cynthia Rowley boutique glowed like a beacon down North Damen, warming the hearts of Bucktown shoppers who were walking by, bundled up as they went about their Christmas shopping. Though Rowley may be a Chicago native and a hometown favorite, she now resides in America’s reputed fashion capital, New York, but is excited to be opening her second boutique here in the place she used to call home.
The small space at 1653 North Damen is a perfect canvas to show off Rowley’s signature fun, flirty, womanly style, her newer offerings of sunglasses, jewelry and knit goods and her book “Slim: A Fantasy Memoir,” which showcases Rowley’s own illustrations. At the grand-opening party servers circulated with splits of champagne with green and pink bendy straws and bags of Garrett’s popcorn (Rowley’s favorite) for guests to munch on while mingling. Rowley herself was mobbed by fans, many of whom were old friends. The diminutive designer and mother of two oozed pleasure and joy at being so warmly embraced by her friends, family and fans.
Rowley has a reputation as a serious designer with a sense of humor. If you aren’t familiar with her clothes, you may have seen her popular collection of housewares at Target called Swell, which showcases her sense of style and humor with bright colors, bold patterns and flirty details. Her newest clothing collection is sporty and fitness-inspired while still staying elegant, featuring strong pieces that would look good while riding one of the brightly painted old-fashioned bicycles that are in the shop. These bicycles were also featured in her New York Fashion Week offering this season.
The new Bucktown location has a popular sister spot in Lincoln Park and Rowley’s insouciant style is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Bucktown is the place for boutiques these days, though it still clings to some of its artistic charm and eccentricity. Hopefully Rowley’s store and collections will add to that charm. (Beth Dugan)
Cynthia Rowley, 1653 North Damen, (773)276-9209.