Linda Cunningham unwraps new fashion candy River Oaks locale
Houston, it seems, is Linda Cunningham’s sweet spot. After successfully opening her luxury enclave on Edloe 2006, Cunningham is branching out once again in Houston with Haut Chocolat boutique in the River Oaks Shopping Center.
This time, Cunningham is dressing customers from day-to-night, office-to-cocktail and adding little extras like couture dark chocolate candy bars with a spicy kick upon checkout and highly personalized service.
After looking at various spots around town, Cunningham was lucky to nab a highly visible corner spot. The fashion designer turned her talents toward the interior, painstakingly creating an open and bright store, that’s heavy on a spherical theme. If it’s a subliminal message to shoppers encouraging them to keep coming back, Cunningham is on track.
The store skews younger and more daring than her custom designs and other luxury labels at her first location and that’s on purpose. It’s very clear that while Haut Chocolat is part of the Cunningham family, it is a distant cousin at best and that’s a good thing.
Standouts like An Ren, an eye-catching line that expertly mixes patterns and colors would work for girls in their 20s and beyond. There’s color, flounce, denim and accessories but Cunningham’s outerwear selection is stellar. Coats, jackets and other toppers are the perfect weight for our fickle climate and the styles are modern and exciting. Prices range from $250 to $600 and can be special ordered.
In the “do unto others” vein, Cunningham’s vision for Haut Chocolate rotates around the entire experience.
“It’s not all about the clothes. I like shopping at stores where people know my name. I’m a relationship person and this is just not a mall store. I want to invest in my clients and the community,” Cunningham says.
This is a slight and spunky woman with a definite Southern air and you get the idea Cunningham is sincere about her goal for the boutique. She flies in from Florida every four weeks and did say she will introduce a very limited collection in the new year she designed just for the Haut Chocolate customer.
Despite the dour economy, Cunningham has seen just a little dip at her Edloe atelier and admits that opening a boutique may seem a little crazy, but she believes in local shoppers.
“I love Houston and the southern demographic," Cunningham says. "It’s very social and there’s always a reason to get dressed and go out. This is a good place to embrace a new brand."