Dylan Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s daughter, talks about her new Chicago store, and her favorite things to do in the Second City.
Her father may be fashion royalty, but Dylan Lauren’s achievements in the sweets sector have cemented her status as America’s confectionary queen. With her latest branch of Dylan’s Candy Bar now open on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, she has big plans for the Midwest. Not only is it her largest store to date, but the airy space (a converted museum in the iconic Tribune Tower) will serve as a sun-drenched backdrop for some new initiatives.
To wit: a candy personalization station, an outdoor café featuring the brand’s Wonka-esque cocktails, and a whimsical exhibit of Lauren’s famed collection of bunny memorabilia. We sat down with the entrepreneur to chat about the new location, Chicago’s candy heritage and how she likes to spend her free time in the Windy City.
Why open a shop in Chicago?
I have had my eye on Chicago for 13 years, but couldn’t find the right space. I wanted a corner, with lots of foot traffic and natural light. Finally, this spot—a former museum—on Michigan Avenue opened up. Not only was the space ideal, it was across the street from the historic Wrigley Building, another candy company. Chicago is also a major candy capital. It is home to Tootsie Roll, Ferrara (Lemonheads), Wrigley and World’s Finest Chocolate, and is the site of the biggest international candy show each year.
What do you like about Chicago?
I love the architecture, the wide, open streets and the sense of space and light. Things just seem to look bigger and brighter in Chicago.
Where do you go when you are here?
One of my favorite things to do is run on Lake Michigan. For meals, I love to eat at RL (obviously!). I also like Bandera, RPM Steak and Wonuts at Water Tower Place. When I have more time, I want to explore the different neighborhoods.
What’s different about this Dylan’s Candy Bar location?
Because the space has high ceilings and a museum layout, it creates an incredible vantage point for customers to experience the convergence of fashion, art, pop culture and candy. Walking through the various sections (we have a lollipop tree, fashion collaborations, areas for nostalgia, hand-dipped and novelty candies, and Chicago souvenirs), it feels as if they are curated exhibits of candy.
There’s an indoor/outdoor space for the café. The candy cocktail menu has been refreshed and we have added some Chicago-centric drinks like the Boilermaker Float, fashioned with Not Your Father’s root beer, Brugal Anejo rum, vanilla ice cream, a root beer candy stick and a Cracker Jack topping. Another unveiling? The personalization station (pick your vessel, make labels for it, add photos, and more) will kick off in Chicago and then make it into other markets. Finally, I wanted to create a “museum” for my collection of bunnies. The bunny is the Dylan’s Candy Bar mascot, and I wanted to display some of my favorite pieces for customers.
For the record, Dylan’s favorite candies are red and chewy: red Swedish fish, red gum balls, and red licorice.