Week #37 – Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago

My Ciocia (“aunt” in Polish) Andrea has worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since I can remember, for many years as the Dean of the Fashion Department. So when she offered to show me around the museum’s new fashion exhibit, I couldn’t say no!

The exhibit pairs Impressionist paintings with dresses and accessories from the time period in a way that is both reflective and inspiring.

We couldn’t take photos, so I’ll tell you a little bit about what I saw and learned:

  • Each room has a theme. My favorite was the park room, with faux grass, park benches, and outdoor sounds. Not to mention beautiful garments.
  • Just like today, women dressed to stand out. The elite would go to milliners and have their clothes custom made to mimic the latest fashions from Paris.
  • When you look at the exquisite detailing of the dresses, notice the petite size and construction. The dresses don’t allow women to raise their arms above their shoulders…because they didn’t have to. Also, notice how the dress shape accentuates a tiny waist.
  • There’s something for men too! One room dedicated to the sophisticated suits and military wear.

That’s all for now because I want you to experience it for yourself!

Please, don’t miss this exhibit, open until September 29. I went over my lunch hour and felt rushed, so give yourself a bit of time. Enjoy!

(Thanks, Chuch!)

Art Institute of Chicago Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity Exhibit
111 South Michigan Avenue
The Loop


Week #33 – Pump Room

The Pump Room at Public Chicago, has been on my to do list since the beginning of the year, and I was so glad to check it  off my list with Nate and our college friends Brian and Kelly.

Brian and Kelly recently moved to the burbs, and asked us if we wanted to get together for dinner in the city. The pressure was on, as I wanted to make a good decision since they were making the effort to come see us. After a delicious—and filling—dinner at Chicago Q (one of my favorites for barbecue), the night was still young, so we figured we’d grab a drink before heading home. I believe Kelly suggested the Pump Room, and it was like she read my mind. It was a nice cool Chicago evening (we’ve been having a lot of them lately—I love it), so we walked over to the historic Pump Room.

Now, I should mention, the Pump Room first opened in 1938, and used to be a see-and-be-seen-place by celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Better Davis, Judy Garland, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn—should I keep going? The restaurant and bar reopened in Fall 2011, and has been getting great reviews ever since.

When we walked in, we were on a mission to find some seating. As we looked for chairs, it was hard not to get distracted by the beautiful interior design of the restaurant and hotel. We walked through the bar, the library, the coffee bar, and into the screening room, where Breakfast at Tiffany’s was playing. After cozying into the big, comfy sofas, we decided we needed to relocate or else we’d fall asleep (because it was so relaxing—not boring!). We were lucky to get a table after a short wait in the bar. We had a view of the restaurant, and I have to geek out and tell you the modern circular lighting in there is gorgeous. The gold curved wall behind the bar was also a glamorous touch.

Although I didn’t eat (and I didn’t get a good look at the plates either…darn), I did have room for a cocktail, which was a grown-up version of a summertime: Vodka Thyme Lemonade with Belvedere Citron vodka, fresh lemon, thyme, and soda. It was refreshing with a bite, which I enjoyed. The sprig of thyme in the glass gave it a little sophistication too.

Our table was perfect, and the noise level around 8 or 9 pm was lively, yet easy to carry on a conversation (much appreciated!). The tables of customers were very eclectic—from an out-of-town couple on their cell phones to an anxious younger guy waiting for his date.

I really enjoyed this spot, and would like to return for another round at the bar and dinner (small plates featuring a farm-to-table concept). Maybe you’ll join me?

Pump Room
1301 North State Parkway
Gold Coast

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