LAKEVIEW — A self-made designer is packing all the glamor she can into a members-only style showroom opening soon in Lakeview.
Style Room 326, opening April 29 at 1722 W. Belmont Ave., will remake the stale shopping experience without the big price tag, said owner Teresa Washington.
"You shouldn't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get that Neiman Marcus customer service," she said. "You can still be fashionable and stylish without breaking the bank."
Annual memberships will be $69, with the first month free. Members get access to the in-house designs, which will rotate weekly, Washington said.
"I feel like a lot of customers really love the exclusivity of being a part of something," Washington said. "You get first dibs on this piece no one will have."
While members will be invited to exclusive events, there will also be some events for potential customers. Pop-up shops, makeup workshops and fashion shows featuring new designers will be regular season events.
"We definitely want to get away from that boutique feel," Washington said. "It has gotten away from exclusivity. You go to some, and they have the same item that probably 40 more boutiques have."
Members will also have the option to host a party where they can try on clothes and bring articles from their closets for advice on how to style it best.
Washington got her start in fashion a decade ago, when she opened Paris J Boutique — named after her daughter Paris — in Cincinnati.
When she moved to Chicago four years ago, she closed Paris J and launched her own fashion label, which will be among those sold at Room 326. The showroom number is a reference to Washington's March 26 birthday.
"They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why," Washington said. "I've always lived by that quote."
She picked up a knack for design as a buyer for Paris J Boutique, attending trade shows to select her shop's inventory. Sometimes, though, she'd end up with a completely different piece than the sample she'd originally seen.
At Room 326, that won't be the case.
"What you see is what you get delivered," Washington pledged to wholesale customers. "From top to bottom, I'm very particular about the style."
Style Room 326 will open with a two-day grand opening event April 29-30 that will include a preview of its spring collection, champagne, small bites and gift bags.
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