One of the world's hippest high-fashion clothing stores has arrived in Houston. Earlier this month, The Webster debuted in a stand-alone "jewel box" at The Galleria, fronting Westheimer. To celebrate, its French owner Laure Heriard Dubreuil recently flew in for the day to give a select group of fashion writers a tour of the new emporium.
The 5,000-square-foot Houston boutique has many of the features of Dubreuil's Florida stores in South Beach and Bal Harbor, with plush brown carpeting, floral fabrics on the walls, vintage sofas and contemporary art work. A large piece, titled "Pleasure!," by Maxwell Snow, greets customers at the entrance and a contemporary work created especially for the Houston store by Dubreuil's husband, artist Aaron Young, dominates one wall. With high ceilings and an abundance of windows, the boutique has a more open feeling than her Florida stores.
The Houston store is divided into sections, with a large area featuring shoes, accessories and clothing for women, a separate space with cutting-edge cocktail dresses and a men's room featuring designer names. To celebrate the opening, Dubreuil commissioned exclusive items like an Edie Parker women's Texas flag clutch and a red sundress from international style icon Inès de la Fressange for sale.
Vive la difference
With so many new international stores recently opened in the River Oaks District and The Galleria, and with more to come, what makes The Webster different?
"I think it's the selection," Dubreuil says. "And it's the way I curate and select the pieces and the way I mix them together. When I buy, I buy it differently and I mix it differently. So no matter what, I think it's one of a kind."
Among other exclusives in the Houston store are jewelry from Aurelie Biderman and Nektar, Gigi Burris headpieces, Linda Farrow 18-karat gold sunglasses, Maison Michel straw hats, Olympia Le Tan clutches and clothing by Saloni, Sonia Rykiel and JC Obando.
For men, the exclusives include sweatshirts by Ami and Raf Simons, Hood By Air and Off-White T-shirts, The Elder Statesmen sweater and Teddy Bull, a stuffed animal made especially for Houston, and the Bamford Watch Department.
With social media, the pace of fashion now travels at warp speed, Dubreuil notes, referring to changes at Dior, Lanvin and Saint Laurent, among others.
"That's why for me the most important thing is to select the pieces that are timeless. That's what I like. Things that you wear over and over again and that you are happy to travel with, not so that after two weeks you want to throw them away because they are old-fashioned. I think people want to slow down. It's a little bit aggressive, this constant pace."
Miami vs. Houston
In selecting the array of styles for the Houston boutique, Dubreuil really didn't veer much from the looks she has selected for her international clientele in Miami. "You know, at the end I don't think it's that different," she says.
"When I first opened in Miami, people would say, 'You should do this brand because it is so Miami.' I did at the beginning and they never sold. I realized what sells is what I love, what I wear and what I embrace. This is what really works. So far, I did it with my own heart and only my own closet and we'll see if it works."
Dubreuil, whose family owns the famed Rémy-Martin cognac company, opened The Webster in South Beach eight years ago with distinctive high-end clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry for men and women from top design houses like Givenchy, Valentino, Balenciaga and Lanvin and distinctive brands like Margiela, Miayet and Mugler.
The Webster was an instant success, putting Miami on the style map, as the hip fashion crowd compared it favorably with such legendary worldwide boutiques as 10 Corso Como in Milan and Colette in Paris. She expanded to the chic Bal Harbor mall in 2013.
Only open in Houston since New Years Day, Dubreuil says there's been "great traffic" from the Galleria and a client base cultivated by the sales team. "A lot of people in Houston are familiar with our store in Miami," she says, noting that the dreary weather during Art Basel Miami Beach left more time for visitors to shop and less time for the beach.
Dubreuil plans to pop in and out of the Houston store on a regular basis. "I'm happy to spend my time here. It's very exciting. I want to take the opportunity to travel more in Texas."