Wine + Design

A new in-store dining experience at Chicago’s Sacks Fifth Avenue brings architecture, fashion, and food together.

09.02.2014 by Ben Frotscher

Tasked with creating an in-store dining experience that fused architecture, fashion, and food, Andre Kikoski Architect used the iconic elegance and enduring style of a muse who defined sophistication at Saks Fifth Avenue for 40 years to create Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue.

“Sophie Gimbel was a celebrated fashion designer and the first American designer on the cover of Time,” said Kikoski. “With Saks being known as confident and a little sassy, stylish but not preachy, and having a sense of authority but playful, we thought there was a cool factor there with Sophie that would help us create this brand within the Saks brand.”

Looking at both Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of the building and Gimbel’s iconic work previously on display at Parsons’ The New School of Design, Kikoski was able to use equal parts architecture and design to create a one-of-a-kind dining environment.

“Sophie’s provides additional amenities for customers—another lens to experience the Saks brand,” Kikoski said. “We focused this dining experience on the Saks customer—chic, elegant, and stylish—but also kept in mind that Sophie wasn’t necessarily a girly girl. She liked to drink scotch and smoke cigars while making beautiful, feminine clothes.”

Unveiled in January as part of a larger renovation, Sophie’s is integrated into the seventh floor men’s store, Fifth Avenue Man. The store's signature black and white colors carry into the 100-seat location, where visitors are welcomed to a sleek bar and inviting café lounge adjoined to an open kitchen that is silhouetted by linen glass.

The dining room—screened by cascading rippled glass and sumptuously appointed with vintage velvet, white silk, and gold leaf—overlooks Michigan Avenue, with panoramic views of the Magnificent Mile, the Historic Water Tower, the John Hancock Center, and Lake Shore Drive.

“Saks has great architectural legacy, great graphic legacy, and then we found this great personality who had this incredible sense of style and incredible self-taught artistic sense that was as current today as it was then,” Kikoski said. “It was perfect confluence that we could all roll into this perfect opportunity.”