For Michael Blossom, history and fashion go hand-in-hand. In 2007 he opened Florodora, a high-end women’s boutique featuring a vintage-inspired collection of clothing and accessories, some of which are designed and produced locally. The boutique is located in the South Loop on the first floor of the Monadnock Building, a historic landmark for the city, but also a personal landmark for Blossom. His grandmother worked on the seventh floor of the building in the early twentieth century. Everything about Florodora is inspired by that time period: from the antique chandeliers and ornate wooden furniture pieces inside the store, to the clothing, handbags and jewelry.
Blossom’s newest venture also combines fashion and history. Florodora Shoes is located just south of Florodora and on the same block, at 348 South Dearborn. After some research on the Monadnock Building, Blossom learned the corner retail space that now houses Florodora Shoes has been home to multiple businesses, most interestingly, two different shoe stores. From 1902 through the 1940s, a shoe store named Hassel’s occupied the space. In the 1950s, a retailer named Hardy moved in, and also sold shoes. “You could tear up this carpet and find ‘Hardy’ in places,” Blossom says.
Florodora Shoes has a similar feel to that of Florodora, in both decor and merchandise, but a bit edgier. “I wanted to tie it in, but keep it minimal, industrial and appropriate for the time period of the building,” Blossom says. With street-facing windows on two sides of the store, the space feels light and open, interrupted only by upholstered chairs at the center of the store for trying shoes on. Handbags hang on hooks near the counter, where jewelry created by local designers is displayed.
And there are, of course, the shoes.
I spied a pair of grey suede peep-toe heels, reminiscent of 1940s fashions, and a pair of laser-cut leather sandals, decidedly more contemporary. A pair of black lace oxfords and a black pair of heeled T-straps blend today’s trends with classic style. Florodora features lines by Candela, Mea Shadow, Ann Roth and Coclico, among others. “There are a lot of interesting things going on with shoes right now,” Blossom says, and his Florodora Shoes supports his case. (Naomi Huffman)
Florodora Shoes, 348 South Dearborn, (312)212-8860, florodora.com