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Uptown Park Changes

Longtime Houston luxury boutique plans big expansion — and a shorter name

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Elizabeth Anthony, Esther Wolf, 50th anniversary party, October 2012, Storefront
Elizabeth Anthony Esther Wolf, shown here in 2012 photo, is expanding. Photo by © 2012 Dave Rossman
Elizabeth Anthony, Esther Wolf, 50th anniversary party, October 2012, Julie Roberts, Bobbie Nau
Elizabeth Anthony Esther Wolf owner Julie Roberts, left, celebrated the store's 50th anniversary at a party in 2012. Julie Roberts, Bobbie Nau Photo by © 2012 Dave Rossman
Zac Posen evening gown fall 2014 collection
The expanded store will carry new lines, including Zac Posen, who showcased this look from his fall 2014 collection at New York fashion week. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz
Places-Shopping-Elizabeth Anthony_Esther Wolf exterior day
Roberts plans to stay in the Uptown Park location until at least 2022. Photo by Barbara Kuntz
Jenny Packham EA EW
Elizabeth Anthony | Esther Wolf
Elizabeth Anthony, Esther Wolf, 50th anniversary party, October 2012, Storefront
Elizabeth Anthony, Esther Wolf, 50th anniversary party, October 2012, Julie Roberts, Bobbie Nau
Zac Posen evening gown fall 2014 collection
Places-Shopping-Elizabeth Anthony_Esther Wolf exterior day
Jenny Packham EA EW

The luxury women's boutique Elizabeth Anthony | Esther Wolf is getting a new look and a shorter name. The Uptown Park shop is taking over the next-door space formerly occupied by David Brown Flowers to expand to more than 7,500 square feet, with a new jewelry area and revamped handbag and clothing departments.

The new "facelift and redo," by Russell Hruska of Intexure Architects and interior designer John Kidd, will include new hardwood floors, carpets, fixtures, additional dressing rooms and custom jewelry and handbag display cases created by master woodworker Gary Fusco, who made the cases for the luxury store Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla.

 "It was probably the hardest decision I had to make, but I felt it was time," Roberts said. "I had to make the decision that was right for me." 

The expansion will increase the total of showcase windows fronting the store to seven, stretching from M Penner to Ceron. "I told Angela, who does our windows, we'll have to step it up," owner Julie Roberts said. "I want the town to be talking about it."

The makeover is scheduled to begin after Mother's Day and be completed by late summer. The store will remain open during the expansion and renovation.

Even with planned construction of high rises in the area that will alter the Uptown Park retail scene, Roberts says the store will remain in the expanded location. "We signed an extension until 2022," she said.

The bigger store will have room to carry new lines, including Zac Posen, MaxMara, Costume National clothing and handbags, Edie Parker handbags, Blumarine, Sydney Evan jewelry, Rachel Gilbert, Tony Ward, and an expanded collection from British designer Jenny Packham, who is a favorite of Kate Middleton.

While the store is growing, Roberts has decided to shorten its name to Elizabeth Anthony. She purchased the specialty store Esther Wolf in 2003 and merged it with her existing Elizabeth Anthony store, but the long moniker has become especially unwieldy in today's fast-paced character-conscious society.

"It was probably the hardest decision I had to make, but I felt it was time," Roberts said. "I had to make the decision that was right for me."

Elizabeth Anthony holds special meaning for Roberts because the name is a combination of the middle names of her two children, who were only 1 and 9 when she launched the Elizabeth Anthony collection out of her home in 1987 as a single mother. 

When considering the abbreviated name, she polled customers, including those old enough to remember Esther Wolf, whose specialty store was favored by River Oaks women when it opened in 1962 and for several decades afterward. "They told me, we come to you because we love you and the store, whatever you call it," Roberts said.

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