In the market for a $40 votive candle? This is the place for you.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop pop-up is open through May 10. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
The Chicago pop-up is Goop's third, following openings in Dallas and Los Angeles (OK, Brentwood). Though the furnishings and decor are unique to each city, according to Goop representative Sara Droz, the rest of the heavily curated merchandise — clothing, accessories and home goods — is the same.
Goop pop-ups showcase a handful of items with local connections, like Heritage Bikes, Stephanie Izard's cookbook and accessories from Jayson Home. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
Compared with the frenzy that accompanied last weekend's launch of Target's Lilly Pulitzer collection, Goop's opening on Saturday at 11 E. Walton St. was downright sedate.
Maybe it was because Paltrow wasn't in attendance, though her face beamed out from stacks of her cookbooks on display.
Patty Wetli breaks down all things Goop:
Follow @goop on Twitter and Instagram to find out when GP will pop into the pop-up to sign cookbooks. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
Maybe it was because the boutique's neutral palette — lots of gray and white — and the mellow indie folk/pop playing in the background (what, no Coldplay?) set the vibe to "calm."
The Goop pop-up is artfully arranged, down to the carefully placed sneakers at the foot of a sofa. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
Or maybe it was the way the sales clerks positioned themselves along the wall like museum guards that lent the shop the air of a traveling exhibit, which, come to think of it, isn't really that far off the mark.
The space is artfully arranged, down to the shoes placed just-so at the foot of a sofa, as if Paltrow herself had kicked them off before settling in to read a good book. The line between pop-up and pop art installation is further blurred by the lack of prices on most items and the absence of a visible point of sale.
Imagine sitting down with Gwynnie for a tete-a-tete. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
Can you buy this stuff or not?
Yes you can, Droz assured us. Even the furniture, she noted, can be purchased and picked up when the pop-up ends its run May 10.
Despite the Oscar-winner's absence, Paltrow's affiliation with Goop — "where food, shopping, and mindfulness collide" — was enough to bring out the curiosity seekers.
"We figured she'd have different stuff," said Sarah Christie, visiting from Toronto, where pop-ups, she added, are a foreign concept.
All furnishings are available for purchase when the pop-up pulls up stakes. (DNAinfo/Patty Wetli)
Shopping with her sister Liz, visiting from Calgary, Christie pronounced the Goop boutique "interesting," particularly an Aga stove she couldn't figure out how to operate, but she wasn't sure that she'd actually buy anything.
"Just get a lip gloss," Liz urged.
"That what my co-workers said. 'Just bring us a lip gloss,'" Christie said.
Sadly we didn't spot any $5,000 gold-plated juicers or $100 packs of designer playing cards — two of the more derided picks from Goop's 2014 holiday gift guide.
Still there were plenty of head-scratchers to be found, which we rank in ascending order of Goop-ness.
Goop Factor 1: Staub cast-iron cookware
Gotta hand it to Gwynnie, our gal knows a trend when she sees one. Cast-iron cookware like this piece from Staub has been around for 100 years, but only recently begun to regain its popularity. Staub, a French brand that can be found easily enough at Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma, is sort of the Rolling Stones of dutch ovens to Le Creuset's Beatles. The question here: Whither the crockery of Gwynnie's BFF Mario Batali, who wrote the foreword for her cookbook? This is Chicago, no pay to play?
Goop Factor 2: Stainless steel reusable straws
Do you know how many plastic straws are clogging landfills? Neither do we. We also don't know a whole lot of people who use straws at home, so we're not sure whether you're supposed to travel with these or not. And if so, do you put your dirty straw back in your purse or pocket until you have access to a dishwasher? We await your enlightenment on reusable straw etiquette, Goop!
Goop Factor 3: Gold-plated wishbone keychain
We confess, we thought this was a bracelet or maybe a bottle opener, but were afraid to ask, in case it was something totally different and obvious, like a gold-plated wishbone keychain. It costs $24, which we learned whilst eavesdropping on someone else who was gauche enough to ask the price.
Goop Factor 4: K. Jacques sandals
The Goop aesthetic is very rustic farmhouse-meets-beachy, if by beach you mean Saint-Tropez. The story behind these made-in-France sandals, which retail for about $250, is actually quite charming. K. Jacques was founded by Jacques Keklikian and his wife Elise, Armenian refugees, so this is truly a leather-to-riches tale. The company is still family-run and the only Goop-y thing about it is that it was named a Living Heritage Company by the French Government in 2011.
Goop Factor 5: Cooking twine
It's. Cooking. Twine. You can get it for five bucks anywhere. What is it doing at Goop's pop-up? Perhaps Paltrow is showing us a whole new use for skeins of the string — natural and organic bookends!
Goop Factor 6: Aga stove
This Aga stove is a beauty, if a bit mystifying in terms of how it works, especially to those unfamiliar with this classic British brand. It's also a classic example of what some have called Goop's "Marie Antoinette–esque detachment from reality." This display model represents the lowest end of Aga's line, and sells for about $10,000 (depending on pounds-to-dollars conversion rates). Aga also earns extra Goop points for its foundry, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the first Iron Bridge in the World.
Goop Factor 7: Bob Kramer knives
What, these old things that we just leave out on the counter? Look closer, friends. Those are Bob Kramer "Damascus steel" knives. Kramer is one of only 120 bladesmiths in the U.S., the final exam for which is to build a 10-inch Bowie knife made of 300-plus layers of steel that can cut through a one-inch rope in a single swing, chop through a two-by-four twice, shave a swatch of arm hair and then bend at a 90-degree angle without breaking. So yeah, Kramer is bad ass and he's been profiled by the New Yorker.
We're assuming these are "licensed" Kramer knives for sale at Goop — they cost around $400 each — because the only way to get a custom Kramer is to win the lottery. Seriously, you sign yourself up on Kramer's website and "as Bob has room in his schedule, we select names from our email list to place an order."
Goop Factor 8: 3.1 Phillip Lim track shorts
These are $395 track shorts. Repeat: $395 track shorts. They command such a high price, we assume, because they're "extra-flattering," according to Goop. The shorts are sold out on Goop's website but if you have 82-inch legs, by all means, buy them at the pop-up.
Goop Factor 9: Books
Lots of people incorporate books into their home decor. Lots of people don't have copies of "Les Mille et Une Nuits" lying about the house. In case you haven't noticed, Gwynnie likes all things French, including this version of "The Thousand and One Nights," which just happens to be the first-ever European translation from the Arabic original. Think about that the next time you buy a paperback at the airport.
Goop Factor 10: Murchison-Hume candle
What's so obnoxious about a candle, you ask, aside from the $40 price tag? Allow us to introduce you to Murchison-Hume founder Max Kater, former fashion editor-turned-cleaning product magnate.
"When I left my job in Fashion to be a stay-at-home Mom, I couldn’t understand why everything made to maintain your home had to be so ugly. Why does neon coloured plastic and 'pine' scent dominate the cleaning aisle? It’s revolting!" she said in an interview.
But wait, there's more.
"I went to the very best candle-maker (that is a real thing) in Los Angeles. He designs candles for everyone from Oprah to J. Crew and he taught me the whole process from creating the perfect scent to wicks, vessels and wax composition. I am now a certified candle maker. Another arrow for my quiver!"
Goop Factor 11: Kids Counter shampoo and soap
Kids Counter is a sibling of the Beauty Counter brand founded by wife and mother Gregg Renfrew. She was shocked to discover the lack of regulation in the personal care industry.
"Companies are allowed to use known toxins — ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, hormone disruption — without telling us," says the Beauty Counter website.
Her products don't. Use toxins, that is. They're good for your kids.
Every choice counts, Goop declares. Ergo, if you choose not to buy Kids Counter — $16 each, $42 for a set of three — for your children, you don't love them.
The Goop pop-up is open through May 10: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
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