The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Photos: A Sneak Peek At The Beautiful New UNIQLO

By Danette Chavez in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 23, 2015 5:36PM

It's here, it's here, it's finally here! The much ballyhooed UNIQLO store, that is.

Yes, the Japanese retailer's flagship Midwestern store opens this weekend on the Magnificent Mile. The hoi polloi, including the mayor and his representatives, had to wait until this morning for the grand opening celebration. But the store offered a sneak peek to industry insiders and well-shod reporters (that's me) on Thursday night.

The 60,000 square foot store is located at 830 N. Michigan Ave., in the old Filene's Basement spot—which was always a misnomer for the space, given that it was located on the upper level. Luckily, that location's motorized stairway is still there to lead you to fashion heaven which, in this case, was filled with people whose hands were filled with wine glasses or sake cups. Hors d'oeuvres were also making the rounds, including these mini-latkes that were as cute as they were tasty.

A DJ set up shop at the base of the next set of escalators, and there was a red-carpet area where a photographer was snapping pictures. An employee greeted me at by a pile of cashmere sweaters (which I have heard good things about), asking if I needed any help or a mesh bag to shop with. The staff was very nice and helpful, especially when I asked about UNIQLO's unique HEATTECH fabric (and if they knew where the bathroom was).

And what of the merchandise? Well, I hate to break this to you, but given the store's extensive collection of down coats, wool sweaters, and puffy vests, winter is coming—so you might as well stock up on the HEATTECH garments (I picked up a scarf for my sister). The clothing of the non-armor variety was brightly hued, mostly flannel, and specially priced for the pre-opening bash. Kudos to the store managers or designers for emulating a Chicago layering job, i.e., getting dressed for going outdoors: the mannequins were outfitted in leggings and skirts, hats and scarves, corduroy leggings and button-downs.

The store has three levels in total, and of course the top level has a Starbucks and some Jenga-styled seating. On this particular night, people were also waiting for a chance to have their pictures taken with a gleaming row of Larry O'Brien trophies.

As the night began to wind down, people headed back to the first level—which is actually the fourth floor, which is not confusing at all—for a pre-opening ceremony and (yet another) sake toast. I took the opportunity to buy a flannel shirt and the aforementioned scarf. As I was walking back to the escalator, I stumbled upon homegrown fashionista Jaslene Gonzalez, the Cycle 8 winner of America's Next Top Model. Gonzalez, who was decked out in a "Bye Felicia" dress, was gracious and promoting her upcoming modeling workshop.

And so, with clothes in hand, and celebrity sighting in mind, I left. But, since the temperature had dropped, I ended up breaking in my sister's new scarf.