Bronzeville Boutique Credit: Isa Giallorenzo

“Lady Mocha has come to Bronzeville bearing the gift of fashion,” says William Salaam of his wife, Treva Johnson Salaam, aka Lady Mocha. The pair, both born and raised in Chicago, opened Bronzeville Boutique by Lady Mocha in October 2009 in the graystone where Gwendolyn Brooks once wrote the poem “Kitchenette Building” (a mural-size portrait of Brooks is next to the store’s display window). Johnson Salaam’s keen eye is apparent in the garments she picks for the store, purchased wholesale online and at apparel shows all over the country. “Don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling,” quips Salaam, the self-described head of marketing, and each piece is guaranteed to have a special detail, such as an asymmetrical cut, a bright pop of color, or a sparkly applique. According to him, prices go from “$30 to $300” and can dress anyone from “16 to 60,” with sizes from 0 to 3X for a wide customer base that includes “students, police officers, politicians, stars, and entertainers” or, as Salaam puts it, people “from the pulpit to the pole.”

The shop is often abuzz with customers, many of them looking for special occasion wear.Credit: Isa Giallorenzo
Black tulle dress ($195)Credit: Isa Giallorenzo
Bronzeville Boutique’s manager, Imani Kutti, 23, wears a faux-leather netted top ($96) from the store. A native of the Ivory Coast who’s now studying fashion design management at Columbia College, Kutti sells some of the garments she makes at the boutique.Credit: Isa Giallorenzo
Credit: Isa Giallorenzo
Red lace dress with asymmetrical ruffle ($195)Credit: Isa Giallorenzo
The boutique has its own fragrance, pictured at left. And of course there is bling!Credit: Isa Giallorenzo