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Our man about town Jared Hatch learns everything possible about the Vosges shop in O'Hare Terminal 3. He also reveals that the gourmet chocolate shop will open a branch in Beverly Hills this spring. Oh yeah, and something about a chocolate-covered oyster.
Its been just under two months since Chicago-based Vosges Haut Chocolat—a luscious dark boudoir— has opened their second boutique at O'Hare Airport Terminal 3. We don't usually fly out of T3 but we arrived at the airfield early so we could take our time smelling, snapping, tasting, and feeling, this designer cocoa in their new digs. When we first arrive to Gate H4 across the hall from Gate K3, we stop and admire the new aesthetic of a burnished deep green, almost black, carved wooden shop fixtures. We take 3 deep ujjayi breaths and move closer to the delightful sales associates within the boutique who are teaching foreigners the proper technique of rubbing their thumbs on the dry-to-the-touch bar to release the aromas.
There has always been great response to Vosges creator, Katrina Markoff's combinations of ingredients and sensual approach to tasting and understanding cultures through chocolate. We are not surprised at all that she has chosen to open in the airport given her global curiosity and the recent push by the SBA and the Department of Aviation to lure more local businesses into the spaces at the city operated airports.
The new darker wood store threw us a little for a loop by switching up the what we understood as the brand standard aesthetic of white and purple textures. So as we're shopping for the right choco-bar to snack on during a three hour eastbound flight, we make small talk with the lovely ladies at the store and ask if there's anything besides the darker aesthetic that is super special about this particular location. We are led to the individually packaged caramel marshmallows for "grab and go" clientele. Just an arm's reach away from the mini bars sold singly as opposed to the standard "library" of mini bars sold in all non-airport stores. So this new look and the introduction of grab and go products got us wondering if Vosges is using these two airport stores as little pet projects to test the international waters beyond their Selfridges UK presence and their store within a store in Candylicious at the Downtown Burj in Dubai. We call up Katrina's travel companion, horsebacking buddy, and most importantly sister, Natalie Markoff of the Markoff Group. Natalie, another perfect embodiment of the Vosges lifestyle, lets us in on some top secret news and speaks out about the limited edition truffles in the works for Valentines Day.
So are these Chicago airport locations revealing a change in the look of future boutiques? "All the stores are really individual and reflect the personality of the neighborhood," Natalie says. "The differences that you're noticing are reflective of where Katrina is evolving in her work—this evolution is based around the world's cultures. We still keep the same elements of Vosges the same from store to store, like the crystal chandelier."
Natalie goes on to explain that Katrina took an inspirational trip this past year to Greece, Spain and Turkey where she was constantly enveloping herself in Turkish culture. She'll use her new found knowledge of Turkey to develop new collections and design ? (drum roll please?) ? a brand Sspankin' new boutique in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles! Natalie, a New Yorker, admits it's definitely about time that LA got hip with this jive (Racked thinks so too). "Its on Beverly Drive but I don't know the number yet—the decision was just made," she says. Sorry, west coast lovers and lovers of choco lovers The LA location won't be open in time for Valentines Day—instead, look forward to a calm springtime opening.
So if you're in LA and you want in on the extravagant nouvelle aphrodisiac truffle collection for your secret lover, (or your actual lover) you best order online. But if you're lucky enough to be in a city where Vosges has a brick and mortar, go try the The Sweet Coquette Collection launching January 10th. The collection's line up will feature components of Krug champagne, Chinese star anise, ritualistic desert sage, ancho chillis and ceylon (to name only a few).
The one we're excited about though, is the white chocolate ganache-soaked Kumamoto oysters with Kumamoto pearl dust. Natalie tells us that using an oyster in this way has never been done before. This type of revolutionary thinking, we're sure excites many and has others questioning the Vosgienne way. As the Markoff sisters defensively anticipate closed-minded reactions to Vosges, "If you're not changing and creating and evolving, you're stagnant," she says. (It's these simplifications that we love.)
· Vosges [Official Site]
· Fly Chicago [Official Site]
· Candylicious [Official Site]