Editor's Note: This is the first of a monthly series on great places to shop in Houston — either brand new stores or old reliables that are offering new things.
How good do we have it here in Houston? We get new stores, fresh fashion perspectives and talented people willing to take risks and evolve. It's good to be shopping local.
Chloe Dao has finally figured out what the rest of us have known all along. She’s what makes her designs special, so when Dao downsized her Rice Village boutique, she took the opportunity to rebrand the Lot 8 store name with Dao Chloe Dao, the label sewn into all of her designs.
The new space reflects Dao’s return to her roots and reflects her creativity beyond the sketch pad.
She’s still right there along Kirby and although the space is smaller, it doesn’t feel the least bit cramped. In fact, the long space draws shoppers to a spacious swoon-worthy dressing area/closet, designed to feel like your BFF’s closet. The new space reflects Dao’s return to her roots and reflects her creativity beyond the sketch pad.
I popped by her studio in January and found a cluster of glass balls of varying shapes and sizes. Dao had seen a light fixture using the clear spheres and knew she wanted it for the new store, but one look at the price tag and she decided to do it herself. So with countless trips to IKEA and Home Depot, some ingenuity and trial and error, she made the fixture herself. It hangs in the entry and reminds us that Dao is more than just a clothing designer.
She also worked with Miami-based designer Dimitry Chamy on a pliable colorful recycled plastic called Lumaquilt that can bent to practically any shape or design.
No, it is not an optical illusion — that really is an open space to the left when walking into Sloan/Hall. Shannon Hall and Marcus Sloan have expanded the store, taking over the next-door space that formerly housed Riaro hair salon and there's so much more to see.
The bright white walls and mirrored racks give the bold, colorful dresses and tunics their due.
The duo has enviably good taste that runs the gamut from sexy and kitschy to refined and luxurious and their foray into fashion is no different. Staying with their same discerning eye, they added Peter Pilotto, Tsumori Chisato, Prova and Logan Neitzel to the gallery space.
The bright white walls and mirrored racks give the bold, colorful dresses and tunics their due. The fire-breathing watercolor Godzilla dress by Chisato is tongue-in-cheek beauty and the Prova silk gowns really do straddle 1940s ladylike style and Diane von Furstenberg’s '70s print sensibilities with a fringed beading that definitely says today. That’s how Hall described the collection and honestly, he captured the essence perfectly.
There’s also the scent of timeless luxury tucked behind the dress gallery where a French High Perfumery pioneer Caron perfume bar sits. For now, Sloan/Hall is introducing two of the most popular fragrances — Tabac Blond and Delire de Roses, with an additional fragrance to be added to the mix. Encased in tall, glass dispensers, the fragrances will be poured into Baccarat bottles of a shopper’s choice.
Fresh off a trip to Paris, the two promise even more fashion elements to add and Hall says after 18 years in retail, it’s all about being creative and taking chances.
“After the 2008 economy, we don’t have any fear,” Hall says. “People still gravitate toward something seen as successful and if you build it, they will come.”
Belle la Vie
It’s hard to believe that so many women are STILL wearing the wrong bra size, especially since everyone from Oprah to Time Magazine have told us how to shop for one that raises the girls where they belong. Belle la Vie, a new lingerie store in CityCentre is a one-stop foundation shop, stocking everything from bras and panties to sports and maternity bras.
Aubade and La Perla are among the pretty, lacy things that enhance and support in a cozy chocolate brown setting, accented by feminine touches. A grand opening is slated for early spring.
I’m seriously resisting the urge to quote Bruce Springsteen in reference to Settlement Goods & Design, a new Montrose boutique that is all about the good old USA and the good fashion stuff made here. That’s right, there are fashion-forward, made-in-America, sustainable, fashion lines and owners Alicia Redman and Gene and Jenny Morgan have found them.
The trio combined their mutual talents as designers (interiors, web, graphic) and opened Settlement after mulling other retail ideas that supported their ideals and interests.
Settlement is a women’s and men’s boutique with an artsy sincere vibe and clothing that is now, and five years from now.
Settlement is a women’s and men’s boutique with an artsy sincere vibe and clothing that is now — and five years from now. The store hits the right balance of interesting without being trendy, grown-up but not boring. Brooklyn-based Morgan Carper’s pieces pay great attention to sly detailing and Feral Childe’s collections are modern and unfussy, while PopoMomo and Samantha Pleet are feminine without being too cute.
I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of spring and my favorite was a Chanel-inspired boucle jacket woven with neon pinks and greens, and it’s exciting to see a collection of clothing that, as Gene says, were made by adults in the United States and not little kids somewhere in Vietnam.
The men’s selection is more streamlined than the women’s and was purchased to complement not compete against Mortar, one of Houston’s absolute best men’s stores. Settlement stocks timeless khakis and a strong selection of Gitman Bros. shirts that will be curated specifically for the store based on cut, color and fabric. Men can also take advantage of the perpetual service, a custom three-measurement shirting system for under $150.
The selection of accessories shelves add earthy, chunky oomph in the form of necklaces, cuff links, rings and the most amazing Jody Candrian gold and silver geode cuffs. She’s recently been featured in Vogue and with good reason. At under $1,000, the cuffs are beautiful statement pieces.
L.K. Bennett gets a lot of press for being one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favorite shops, but even if it weren’t a royal favorite, the feminine boutique is certainly a fit for local princesses in waiting. Nipped in waists, peplums and A-line skirts and other form flattering styles are hallmarks of the British import.
The Galleria location opened its doors in late winter, but has ushered in spring with bright, bold colors and patterns. I’m partial to the Sophie Red Wedge Espadrille, but think Kate’s more of an Andie kind of a girl.