Photo courtesy of SBA Dermatology & Plastic Surgery

Designer shoes or the next "it" bag? Consider the gift of self-care this holiday instead.

The skin experts at SBA Dermatology & Plastic Surgery know that now is the time Houstonians start getting their skin and appearance holiday-ready, plus getting their holiday shopping done.

The gift of enhancing beauty is a gift that won’t disappoint, whether for yourself or a loved one.

Here are SBA's top picks that are a hit every holiday season:

  • Facial rejuvenation (like laser skin resurfacing and non-surgical skin tightening) starting at $1,000

Please note prior to any of the above-mentioned procedures, a consultation is essential to determine your personalized treatment plan.

“I often get asked by my patients what’s the best time of the year for surgery and honestly, any time works as long as you can take time to recover,” explains Ryan Couvillion, MD, “I also have many patients that consider this time of year because they have extra time off. The best time to have surgery is highly dependent on the patient.”

Sure, the holiday season is a great time for recovery given all the extra time off, but it’s also an ideal opportunity to kick-start your 2023 beauty goals.

From basic skincare products to facials, injectables, and surgical options, there's something for every skin and beauty lover.

SBA Dermatology & Plastic Surgery is a full-service dermatology and plastic surgery office with five different departments: medical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, medical spa, plastic surgery, and clinical research.

They pride themselves on staying at the forefront of the industry's latest and greatest technologies, taking the greatest care of their patients, and producing natural-looking results. They've been keeping Houston beautiful since 1997.

Most recently, Houston-native and double-board-certified plastic surgeon Ryan Couvillion joined the team, expanding the office's services to include plastic surgery.

Call 713-850-0240 to purchase gift cards and/or to schedule your consultation. You can also schedule your consultation online here.


All prices are estimates. Financing available on select procedures

Couple hugging in front of Christmas tree

Photo courtesy of SBA Dermatology & Plastic Surgery

Give the gift of self-care.

Photo by Fleur Kaan

Houston beauty experts share skincare tips, products, and procedures for an ultra-glam holiday glow


Ah, the holidays. The season ahead can make even the most bah-humbug person feel a bit indulgent. Parties, shopping and extra treats or cocktails (like Emma D'Arcy's TikTok famous "negroni sbagliato with prosecco in it") are par for the course for the next few weeks.

Although finding perfect outfits and presents is important, prepping for a holiday-ready complexion – that doesn't take too long and will counteract all those celebratory indulgences – is essential.

Even the most devout skincare enthusiast may want extra help to look photo and celebration ready, so we sat down with local skincare experts who share tips on how to get and keep a glowing complexion throughout the holiday season.

Customized skincare

SkinCeuticals Skin Lab by Dr. Roth offers a completely customized skincare experience with cutting-edge technology by one of the best medical-grade skincare brands. SkinCeuticals Custom D.O.S.E. (Diagnostic Optimization Serum Experience) is a personalized formula that addresses an individual's unique skin concerns, including discoloration, blemishes or aging skin.

The quick and painless process begins with a customized consultation where a unique serum is identified from over 48 possible combinations with ingredients like glycolic acid, retinol and niacinamide.

"D.O.S.E. streamlines a skincare routine. It is quick and easy, and the serum addresses many concerns," says Tori Lane, product and skincare specialist at SkinCeuticals SkinLab by Dr. Roth. "The serum typically lasts for three months, and it is a great way to incorporate medical-grade skincare into your routine. D.O.S.E. also makes a unique gift at a reasonable price point."

Perfect products

Dr. Quynh-Giao Sartor, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery - West University, recommends incorporating products that lift and smooth the skin. Aside from a broad-spectrum SPF (which everyone should use daily), she recommends three products for a stress-free holiday skincare routine.

  • A daytime eye cream containing vitamin K, such as the ISDIN Kox Eye cream. This type of cream stimulates lymphatic circulation around the eyes, brightens the appearance of darkness, and decreases eye puffiness.
  • A nighttime treatment with retinol/retinoid such as SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream or bakuchiol ISDIN Melatonik Recovery night serum to stimulate collagen production and cell turnover, increase skin firmness, improve skin texture and repair photodamage. Bakuchiol is an excellent alternative for those sensitive to retinol/retinoids or for those trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding (retinol/retinoids are unsafe in pregnancy or breastfeeding).
  • A simple hydrating moisturizer, such as over-the-counter La Roche Posay Double Repair, is suitable for most skin types. It has natural skin healing properties due to its base of prebiotic thermal water.

Non-invasive reatments

During the holiday season, no one has time to recover from elective procedures, so Dr. Edward Lee of Nuveau Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics recommends three treatments to help patients look party-ready with little or no downtime.

  • BBL HERO is the fastest, most potent IPL in the industry. BBL HERO allows us to treat the entire face and body with four times the speed, three times the peak power and two times the cooling capacity. The result is clearer, smoother and younger appearing skin. BBL HERO can quickly correct vascular lesions, pigmented lesions, sun damage and age spots. Patients can reach outstanding results with minimal to non-existent downtime within as little as a single treatment.
  • Morpheus 8 is a radio-frequency microneedling fractional skin treatment that stimulates collagen production from the underlying layers of the dermis to reveal a more radiant, youthful appearance. With Morpheus 8, visible results can be seen in as little as a few days and continue to improve for weeks to come. Topical numbing is used during the procedure, and the downtime is about three to four days.
  • Moxi Non-Ablative Laser gently revitalizes the skin by correcting the initial signs of damage and aging. It is safe for all skin types any time of year and is performed with topical numbing. The downtime can range from zero to two days; makeup is allowed after 24 hours.

woman with brown hair and brown eyes

Photo by Fleur Kaan

Get a holiday photo and celebration worthy complexion with skincare tips from Houston experts.

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Texas' dreamiest destination spa unwraps exclusive $1,000 Swiss facial for 25th anniversary

Palatial pampering

When the Lake Austin Spa Resort went shopping for a 25th-anniversary gift for guests, it aimed higher than traditional silver and picked treatments that incorporated gold, diamonds, and caviar. As a result, the dreamy destination spa now offers some of the most opulent, exclusive, and — at upwards of $1,000 — most expensive facials in the world.

In anticipation of its milestone anniversary in 2022, the Lake Austin Spa Resort’s LakeHouse Spa partnered with Swiss luxury skincare brand Valmont to introduce the new facials, which are as cutting-edge as they are indulgent.

Creme de la creme among them is The Regal by Valmont, which costs a jaw-dropping $1,050. The Regal was designed in Switzerland exclusively for LakeHouse Spa, and Austin is the only place in the world to get it.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of people,” says Becky Bence, Lake Austin Spa Resort lead esthetician. “And it’s definitely worth it.”

The 135-minute facial begins with the high-tech deep cleanse of the HydroFacial and proceeds with seven masks, including four collagen masks, a papaya enzyme, and a medical-grade LED light mask. Every single product from Valmont’s ultra luxe “masterpiece collection” called l’Elixir des Glaciers is used; some products are made with an uber anti-aging essence of gold sturgeon fish. All are applied using a Valmont signature “butterfly” motion that helps to lift and sculpt the face.

What puts the Regal over the top, though, are 35 minutes of choreographed massage, including a 500-year-old technique called “kobido,'' developed for the empress of Japan. Touted as a “surgical facelift as a massage," Bence says, kobido was once reserved only for nobility and the empress, then later handed down from masters to disciples.

So rarified is the Regal facial, that just six of the 21 LakeHouse Spa estheticians are trained to perform it. They learned at a weeklong “bootcamp” conducted by two Valmont experts who flew in to Austin from Switzerland.

“It was kind of like the Navy Seal program of facials,” Bence says. “It was kind of like being handed down something from a true master.”

The $1K price tag hasn’t kept people away. Since the Regal was introduced several months ago, guests have come from all over the world — and from all corners of Texas — to experience what the spa calls “the ultimate in anti-aging perfection and cellular renewal.” (After all $1,000 is still far less than an actual facelift or even regular nick-tuck-plump-ups by a cosmetic surgeon.)

Why reach all the way to Switzerland for the palatial new treatments? After emerging from COVID shutdowns, Bence says, LakeHouse Spa personnel “auditioned” just about every single skincare line out there. The estheticians voted, and Valmont won.

“We wanted to add something really special, something luxurious but yet something out-of-this-world amazing that truly benefited the skin,” Bence says. “Something almost to replace Botox and fillers …that gave you basically a natural face-lift without being invasive but still being relaxing.”

In addition to the Regal, other new Valmont facials introduced in this 25th anniversary year include:

  • The 150-minute Gold & Diamond Trifecta Facial that involves three massages, four masks, infra-red LED, and a hydrogel mask with micronized gold and diamonds, which costs $990.
  • The Golden Aura Rose & Caviar Facial, a 100-minute treatment that incorporates marine products containing caviar extract and Diamond Collagen, costing $790.
  • Energy of the Glaciers, a 90-minute facial that features rare ingredients from Switzerland and deep, structural massage of the face, stimulating muscles to tone and lift; $750.
  • Luminosity of Ice Facial, a 90-minute treatment described as a “toxin-flushing, facial reflexology-inspired facial” that uses a cocktail of seven plants organically cultivated at high altitudes; $650.

The spa also has a complete menu of non-Valmont facials and dozens of other signature treatments.

Luxe but laid back
Lake Austin Spa Resort’s Dallas-based co-owner, Mike McAdams, says the new facials are indicative of how high the spa wanted to aim for its 25th anniversary.

“Our guest demands a luxurious, more refined experience, and Valmont helps us deliver on that objective,” he says.

And yet, Lake Austin Spa Resort remains a place where robed guests can emerge from a $1,000 facial and step over geckos skittering along the sidewalk while a speedboat whizzes by pumping Beyonce through the speakers. It’s upscale but unpretentious, luxurious but laid-back — almost like “spa camp.”

“We never wanted to create the ‘zen’ spa with stark lines and absence of color – we aimed to create just the opposite,” McAdams says. “Your surroundings absolutely have an impact on how your wellness journey can unfold and influence your daily life. The colors and textures that surround you mimic the vibe of the Texas Hill Country and pay homage to nature.”

The top-rated spa and resort is a far cry now from the place McAdams purchased on January 1, 1997. Located along the shores of scenic Lake Austin in the Texas Hill Country, the property had lived previous lives as a fishing camp, nudist enclave, rodeo ranch, and diet camp.

McAdams — at the time a commercial real estate developer for Dallas-based Trammell Crow — experienced a personal work-life-balance crisis that's wholly relatable in today's post-pandemic, "great-resignation" world two-and-a-half decades later.

“I was living on a plane, traveling a lot. It was high stress, and high energy and I loved it,” he says. “In 1984, I found a place that changed my life — the Ashram in Calabasas, California. It was a true bootcamp, with physical activities and dietary restrictions that were very intense… This experience forced me to come down from my hectic lifestyle of traveling, eating, drinking, and not exercising."

After adopting healthier habits in his own life, he and an LSU fraternity brother, Billy Rucks, seized an opportunity to buy and transform the Lake Austin Spa Resort; they still co-own it today. “It was a diamond in the rough," McAdams says.

More 25th anniversary offerings
One of the biggest challenges running the spa the last 25 years (besides navigating a global pandemic), McAdams says, has been continually evolving in an industry dominated by fleeting fads and headline-grabbing gimmicks.

“The changes in the last 25 years in the spa industry have been monumental,” McAdams says. “The global wellness industry is now a $4.5 trillion economy, with ‘spa’ being one small part of the bubble. We are all seekers looking for ways to look and feel our best, and I think the growth is due to a demand in wanting to take our health into our own hands.”

One of the resort’s newest touts (proudly stated on their home page) is that they’re Texas’ only destination spa on a lake. Recently they’ve introduced a full range of water activities, including a water taxi that transports guests to the spa and back.

“When we bought Lake Austin Spa Resort in 1997, our guests would put a toe in the water — but we’ve also evolved and now understand the power of being near a moving body of water and how it affects your health, happiness, and even alleviates depression,” McAdams says.

Along with the new fancy facials and lake programming, the resort has also added new classes and activities and upgraded amenities for its 25th anniversary. Befitting its location in the “live music capital of the world,” Austin-area musicians now entertain guests nightly around s’mores pits. There’s new artwork around the campus, too.

“My favorite part of celebrating our 25th anniversary this year has been to watch a very special piece of commissioned art be installed in the first few months of the year,” McAdams says. “A local Austin artist created a 64-foot long, 400-square foot abstract mural of stone, glass, and tile designed to honor our magnificent natural location on Lake Austin.

"Within the creation, I wanted to honor all of the amazing past and present people who helped get to where we are today. Their names are included in this mural, discreetly placed within this homage to nature. Because of these special people, Lake Austin Spa Resort has enjoyed many wonderful accolades through the years.”


To mark its 25th anniversary, Lake Austin Spa Resort is offering 25 percent off stays of at least two nights or more, through January 31, 2023. Reservations must be booked by October 31. Some packages include generous spa credits, but sadly, the $1,050 Regal facial is not 25 percent off. Find more information at www.lakeaustin.com.

Red light mask, facial

Photo courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

A red light mask is part of the $1,050 Regal by Valmont facial.

Galleria's Beauty Week returns with sneak peek of fashion and beauty trends and special events

Get Your Glow on

Mark those calendars! Beauty Week at The Galleria is returning for the first time since 2019, giving shoppers a chance to get ahead of fall trends and shop their favorite beauty brands IRL before they sell out.

As if we needed another reason to enjoy the three-day holiday weekend, Beauty Week officially kicks off Sunday, September 4.

The popular, week-long celebration gives shoppers a sneak peek at the latest beauty products, trends, offers and access to a unique beauty event. For the first time, Beauty Week includes a wellness component this year.

“Among many attitude shifts we’ve seen since the onset of the pandemic is a heightened prioritization of wellness,” said Yahaira Hernandez, a Galleria marketing representative. “This year’s Beauty Week celebrates wellness as an important part of beauty, focusing on beauty from the inside out.”

Shoppers can nab special week-long offers and checkout in-store events at participating brands, including Aesop, Fabletics, Jo Malone London, and Morphe.

The week’s festivities will culminate in a glamorous Beauty & Wellness Celebration Event on Saturday, September 10, from 2 pm to 5 pm. Hosted on Level 1, near Nordstrom, beauty brand fanatics will enjoy makeup, hair and fragrance stations, facials from Therabody and Sephora, giveaways and plenty of gorgeous selfie opportunities.

Courtesy of Christy Lynn

Where to shop in Houston right now: 12 must-hit spots for September

Where to shop now

In Houston, it can be a difficult to get into that fall vibe when temps are hovering in the 90s; luckily, there is so much to look forward to before we have to take out our sweaters and boots. For starters: for fashion traditionalists, it's a chance to finally start wearing white.

Shopping for college football looks, back-to-school fits, event and gala season, and new seasonal pieces makes kissing summer goodbye a little easier. With that in mind, we've curated a list of boutiques, products, and markets. Consider this a handpicked edit of the best in Houston this month.

Christy Lynn Collection
Christy Lynn dropped her Fall '22 collection with a buzzy runway show at Hotel Zaza Memorial City. Ready-to-wear items for this season include her famed hand-painted and restored floral prints, sensuous silks and lace from Italy and France. The brand's color pallet for this season is hues of plum with creams, whites and pops of fun prints. Fans of the brand can get their hands on her newest frocks online or at her Montrose atelier.

Elizabeth Anthony
Beginning September 22 and lasting through the 28th, Uptown Park's luxury women's boutique will host seven trunk shows. Featuring brands including Fabiana Filippi, Christine A. Moore, Akris Punto, Safiyaa and Sydney Evan, shoppers can get an up-close look at this Fall's 2022 Collections and a preview of what is to come for Spring 2023.

In addition, Lourdes Chavez will make a personal appearance at the store's debut of her Spring 2023 Collection on September 23. Chris Davies will also visit the store on September 22 with his fine jewelry collection trunk show.

The weather is cooling down, giving shoppers an excuse to enjoy walking and shopping at the Montrose Collective. Gojana, one of the development's newest jewelry stores, recently launched its Gemstone Studded Ring Collection. The rings, designed to be stacked and worn in multiples, feature aquamarine, morganite, white sapphire and opal.

Have a Nice Day Market and Feel Good Market
The Ion is hosting two markets in September, starting with the Feel Good Market series on Thursday, September 1, from 5 pm to 8 pm. The evening market will feature a selection of Feel Good Group's favorite makers from across the Houston area. Next is the Have a Nice Day Market on Sunday, September 18, from 4 pm to 8 pm. The market is free to attend and will feature BIPOC makers, creators, and causes.

Kendra Scott
Kendra Scott is kicking off her nine-stop U.S. Born to Shine book tour in her CityCentre location with a meet-and-greet and book signing. Tickets to the event include a copy of Born to Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love, a meet and greet with Kendra, an exclusive tote bag, and more. Tickets for the select event are available here.

Ultra high-end perfume house Krigler wants to whisk clients away to the snow capped peaks of Colorado with their latest fragrance, Good Fir 11. Inspired by the evergreens, the perfume has a fresh cologne-like scent. Krigler, a staple of the elite, has been worn by the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly and can be purchased at The Four Seasons Houston.

Lululemon is debuting its first-ever Houston 10K on Saturday, November 13, and the brand is making sure racers feel the lululemon love for participating. Those who lace up and run will get a 25-percent discount to shop in any Houston location during race week and receive exclusive access to a capsule collection of 10K products made to commemorate the inaugural race and a bevy of pre and post-race amenities. Registration is open now through race day.

Saturday Silks x Home Themed Home
College football season is here, and everyone knows that aside from tailgating, getting dressed for it is the only thing better than the actual game. Saturday Silks designs gameday scarves and twillies made from 100-percent silk — the perfect accessory for any football fit. The Houston-based company teamed up this football season with another hometown favorite for the ultimate gameday collab. Home Themed Home x Saturday Silks offers gameday door hangers inspired by your favorite college teams. This limited edition collection is available for purchase online.

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow
Keep that summer glow on repeat through the fall with Sunday Riley's award-winning C.E.O. Afterglow. Skin care enthusiasts can’t get enough of the Houston-based company’s recently debuted moisturizer. The brightening Vitamin C gel cream promises to provide natural radiance and 24 hours of continuous hydration. C.E.O. Afterglow is available online or in-store at Sephora and Ulta.

Bespoke men's shoe store Taft just dropped its first-ever penny loafer. The handcrafted Fitz Loafers are great for fall dressing and are available in two colors - Blue Check and Champagne. M-K-T- Heights shoppers can also check out their best-selling Mack Boot, which recently debuted its newest color in time for the fall season.

Teressa Foglia
Add a felt hat from milliner Teressa Foglia to any summer look, and elevate it to the perfect fall ensemble. Known for her custom hats worn by celebrities and featured on the pages of Vogue, Foglia's fall hats come in a creamy palette featuring neutrals and soft blues. In addition to custom designs, the River Oaks District atelier and retail store offers a bespoke, ready-to-wear collection in-store and online. The designers will be on-site September 26-29 for custom orders.

The Golden Thread
TikTok's viral 'Bama Rush proves that sororities are serious business. Now shoppers can purchase everything sorority related at The Golden Thread, which offers customizable sorority jewelry, including bracelets and necklaces. The Memorial area boutique also has a line of college football accessories, including customizable bracelets, necklaces, earrings and accessories.

Get your first look at Christy Lynn's Fall 2022 Collection.

Christy Lynn Collection
Courtesy of Christy Lynn
Get your first look at Christy Lynn's Fall 2022 Collection.
Rhode Skin

5 Houston spas for hands-on help with the delish Hailey Bieber 'glazed donut' manicure

No Calorie Counting here

This summer, glazed donuts have been elevated from everyone's favorite fried treat to an entire aesthetic, thanks to Instagram star, model — and oh yeah, wife of Justin — Hailey Bieber.

From the newly launched Rhode Skin founder, what started as a dewy skincare trend has migrated to nails. The minimalist, glowy look is having a major moment where it seems we are all trying to replicate the gleaming glaze of a Shipley doughnut. The look is viral on TikTok, with the hashtag #glazeddonutnails garnering a whopping 55.1M views and counting.

(For those keeping score, that number is a little higher than Hailey's nearly 48 million IG followers.)

So what are glazed donut nails? This latest trend is an understated manicure created with a nude base color and embellished with a chrome top coat to give that shimmery glazed effect. Beiber's celebrity nail artist Zola Ganzorigt created the look to match the star's YSL Met Gala dress in May, and since then, everyone has been clamoring to do the same.

Houston beauty maven, philanthropist, and animal activist Kara McCullers recently posted an Instagram story of her glazed donut manicure with the caption "such a glazed donut gal," and she isn't the only one jumping on the trend. Vannessa Hudgens and Sydney Sweeney are fans of the look that can be tinted for a fun flavored donut style — strawberry glazed donut is currently Bieber's favorite.

According to Gloss Nail Bar in Montrose, requests for glazed donut nails have skyrocketed since they took off on social media. "This nail trend has been popular all summer," Andrea Hernandez of Gloss Nails tells CultureMap. "We get requests daily — many people come in specifically for that manicure."

Houstonians ready to try the trend for themselves can channel their inner Hailey Bieber at these local salons.

Gloss Nail Bar
Located in Montrose, Gloss Nail Bar is known for its nail art and trend-forward manicures. The nail bar offers a variety of manicure options, including gel, dipped and acrylic sets.

Isle Pedispa Memorial Green
Luxury and beauty are the hallmarks of this Houston nail salon. Over-the-top decor and attention to detail make them a go-to for the latest nail trends.

Brush Box
Offering manicures and pedicures with "five-free" polishes, customers can expect a more natural nail experience. Brush Box also offers signature treatments utilizing a line of house-made products made from organic fruits and vegetables.

Milano Nail Spa
Milano Nail Spa is a full-service nail salon with dip powder, acrylic, and gel polish options. The manicures are long-lasting and consistently high-quality.

Sweet Moment Nail & Pedi Spa
This Kirby hot spot offers various relaxing manicure options and trendy nail art. This nail salon gets glowing reviews for its dip powder services.

Hailey Bieber's viral glazed doughnut nails are the sweetest summer nail trend.

Hailey Bieber glazed donut nails
Rhode Skin
Hailey Bieber's viral glazed doughnut nails are the sweetest summer nail trend.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Mega-celebrity photographer of Beyoncé's all-time favorite portrait holds court in Houston to honor Queen Bey

royal portraits

Only a select few humans — ever — have been photographed as often as pop culture’s undisputed queen, Beyoncé, over her illustrious, 26-year career. Even at her young age, Houston’s queen possesses a singular trait that elevates her above even the most apex celebrities: immortality.

Just how do the ultra-famous unlock the loftiest achievement of immortality? For many, it’s often through a single, transcendent photograph, which can transform a performer into an icon — and rocket a mere mortal into immortal status. And few photographers on the planet can bestow immortality on the globally famous like A-list artisan Markus Klinko.

To celebrate Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour homecoming — and his now legendary photos of her over the years — Klinko will meet fans from 1 pm to 3 pm Saturday, September 23 at Tootsies for a showcase of some of his most famed works — including the ultra-rare Beyoncé “Diamond Dust” series, on view at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.

A statuesque, towering presence (he’s six-foot-four) with chiseled features and a flair for fashion, the Swiss-born Klinko looks every part a celeb himself. That star quality has no doubt helped him break the ice when photographing superstars like our Beyoncé, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell, and Iman — to name a few. Not a bad resume for a former professional classical harp soloist who — sort of amazingly — only fell into photography after a hand injury (more on that later).

Before she became a one-word brand, Beyoncé Knowles was just 22 when she experienced Klinko’s wizardry firsthand in 2003. Already drawing It Girl attention as a member of Destiny’s Child, the young Houstonian had met Klinko during a Destiny’s Child photo shoot for Vibe magazine in 2000. With his trademark, sixth-sense for superstardom, Klinko pointed to Beyoncé while she was lounging with the group and told her mother, Tina Knowles, “Her, she’s going to be huge.” Tina’s response: “We know.”

Three years later, Sony reunited Beyoncé and Klinko to shoot the cover of Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé’s now legendary 2003 debut solo album. The match, now, seems predestined: both Beyoncé and Knowles were in the early stages of their careers. Beyoncé and Klinko vibed immediately, and in a simple snap of his Fuji camera, Klinko shot the stunning and shimmering photo that Queen Bey recently told French newspaper Le Figaro is her most favorite of any portrait taken of her.

Staying true to his organic, in-the-moment approach, Klinko flawlessly captured Beyoncé’s effortless pose in her now-famed diamond top and created one of music’s most iconic celebrity photos and yes, helped cement Beyoncé’s immortal status. And it only cost him his pants. (More on that later, too.)

CultureMap caught up with Klinko ahead of his Houston appearance and fresh off the opening of his latest installation: His celebrity images are on display at the legendary Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in, naturally, the vaunted Elvis Presley Suite. Perfect timing, then, for Klinko to star as a cover model in the familiar Tootsies window displays.

CultureMap: Congratulations on landing the Tootsies window display. It looks gorgeous.

Markus Klinko: Oh yeah, it’s spectacular, isn’t it?

CM: Quite! So, what’s it like seeing yourself as one of the main features of an exhibit — as opposed to being behind the camera?

MK: You know, I’ve never been in the window of a major fashion department store, so this is pretty fun.

CM: Never in the window, but you’ve certainly been the focal point of attention as an acclaimed harpist.

MK: Yes, I started my life on the ‘other’ side, and as you say, as a classical concert harpist. I was signed to EMI Classics and represented by Colombia Artists and traveling around the world making recordings. I was on television very often and on magazine covers and all that throughout my 20s and early 30s — everything from Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar and GQ and all those fashion magazines for which I later worked as a photographer. So it’s not completely. new. But this is sort of a different twist.

CM: You clearly had an understanding of being in the spotlight, and the butterflies-in-the-stomach pressure to put on a great performance and give of yourself to an audience. Did that experience help you relate to your celebrity performer subjects in a way that just maybe a Mark Seliger or an Annie Leibovitz — not disparaging either — could not? Do you have a window into these performers’ worlds where they relate to you, and you to them?

MK: You know, that’s an amazing question and I’m glad you’re asking me this.

I switched from my classical music career, which was very successful at that time, to becoming a photographer at 33 under dramatic circumstances. It was tragic; basically a hand injury forced me to abandon my career at the height of my success in the summer of 1994.

I was forced to cancel recording sessions, touring engagements and all of that. I had no clue where my income would be coming from, so it was not like the happiest moment in my life. It was actually sort of a panic-stricken time.

CM: And then came the moment.

MK: Yes, I had this epiphany that I will become a fashion photographer, actually had no intention at all to ever become a celebrity photographer. In the beginning of my photo career, I was 100-percent interested only in shooting models — mainly female models to be honest. I would have liked to be a Playboy magazine photographer or something.

So in other words, I just wanted to have fun. It was the last thought on my mind to help other musicians succeed.

CM: You almost seem like you were dragged into fashion and celebrity photography.

MK: A few years into my photo career, around 1999, I was still completely focused on shooting models, models, models. I wasconfronted with proposals from record labels and magazines to shoot covers for them. And I distinctly remember telling my agent at the time that I was not interested and that why would I shoot musicians, when I could just shoot models who are more beautiful in general. And that was that.

CM: And how did that go over?

MK: At some point my agent picked up the phone and screamed at me and said, ‘Markus, you’re an idiot! We have record companies wanting to pay you $100,000 a day and you would rather shoot some girl.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine, I’ll try it.’ My first record cover shoot was Vitamin C; at that moment she had the biggest hit of the year.

I asked my friends from Interview magazine to style it and she was lovely and I had no problem with it. But about a month later, I got up in the morning and I went to the gym. As I walked through the streets of New York, there were thousands and thousands of posters of Vitamin. I saw my image of Vitamin C a million times on the way to the gym. And I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s not so bad.’

A couple of months later, GQ called me from the UK and wanted me to shoot these different celebrities. And I told GQ — it was very funny — I said under one condition, I’ll shoot the celebrity you want me to shoot, but I want you to let me shoot some nude girl for the centerfold of GQ. And they just said, ‘Okay, whatever you want.’ So I invented the GQ Pin Up 2000 and for a whole year as a reward of shooting some British pop star girl for them — who I couldn’t care less but whatever, I did it. But then I shot Little Kim and Molly Sims and a bunch of really big models and supermodels.

CM: And then you shoot the world’s biggest supermodel, Iman, for her book, which leads to shooting a rock god David Bowie — her husband — for his now-famous album cover [Heathens, 2002] in 2001. Talk about a word-of-mouth reference.

MK: By that time, I was already inundated with. requests from labels. I shot nonstop for different labels and then Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez. That all came as a reaction basically to that first celebrity shoot with Vitamin C, and I guess just my style. The way I shot models was very different from what was in fashion at the time. I just sort of did my own thing. And that really appealed to major advertising record covers, iconic photo shoots, big comeback shoots for artists like Mariah. Mariah really needed a big comeback shoot in 2005 when she launched The Emancipation of Mimi.

CM: Let’s go back to that magical moment in 2003 when you shot perhaps the most legendary photo of Beyoncé ever.

MK: Sony music called me and they said, 'Beyonce from Destiny’s Child is going solo and she requested you shoot her album cover. Apparently, you had worked with her before for Destiny’s Child and she wanted to only work with you for this.'

So then, Sony Music organized a phone call between me, Beyoncé, the Sony team, and her mom Tina [Knowles] who was styling it. Beyoncé on the phone mentioned specifically my photograph of Leticia Costa, the French supermodel and actor in the "Spider Web" shot. And she said she really loved that photo — She called it the Diamond Spider or something. And she said she would love something like that, but smaller on her. And to be honest, I had no idea what that meant, but I was just like, 'Okay.'

Fast forward to a week later when the photo shoot actually happened and they arrived in the morning. I noticed that there was this diamond top and I grabbed it and I went up to Beyoncé. I said, 'This is exactly what you were talking about. We could do this.' And then she said, 'Oh yeah, I was thinking about it, but my mom has these skirts and I don’t wanna wear those because it reminds me of a prom and I don’t wanna look like a prom on my album cover.'

And I said, 'Yeah, of course not. Let’s do it with denim.' And then Beyonce said, 'No, we don’t have any, we didn’t bring any denim.'

CM: And then...?

MK: And so I said, 'Oh, don’t worry, maybe you’ll fit into mine.' And she said, 'Oh, really? Can I try them?' And so that’s the story.

CM: I’m guessing you had another pair handy?

MK: Oh, sure, I just grabbed another pair from upstairs I had. You know, back then and until now, my favorite pair of jeans are always DNG — Dolce & Gabbana.

CM: I love the story of how she returned them to you.

MK: She brought them back a couple months later. She had dry cleaned them and she packed them into some sort silk paper thing and a ribbon. She brought him back and said, 'Please don’t sell them on eBay, ever.' And she laughed.

I thought that was really sweet and I just took them and I put them somewhere. This is crazy, but I’m actually talking to Botswana Diamond Dealers to fill up a bathtub at the Vegas suite and to put those Beyoncé jeans into the bling bathtub as a joke. You know, almost as a shrine.

CM: Markus, it certainly seems to me that right when you looked through the viewer and fired off that exposure, she went from Beyoncé Knowles from Houston, Texas to the immoral global brand all in one second.

MK: You are right, yes. Absolutely she did. I had a jolt in my, in my whole body when that moment happened. And I told her that right then as soon as I clicked that shot. I said, 'We got the cover, you’ll see.' There's alternate shots of that, which are all beautiful, and some of them will be in Houston.

CM: It seems you predicted her future while announcing her to the world. Is that fair to say?

MK: Well, the way I see it is with that image, I sort of anticipated who Beyoncé was going to become. I think that my job that day was to take a young girl from Houston, Texas, a member of an R&B group, and present to the world who she will be. And she would have become that regardless of whatever I did photographically, because she’s such an enormous, enormously talented musician and performer and icon. She’s a great actress. But, my opportunity was to showcase to the world quickly and immediately who she will be. And so that’s what I’m proud of.

CM: You have shot countless celebrity portraits — many the most memorable of said celebrity, like Britney Spears. How does it feel to hear that your 2003 shot is Queen Bey’s favorite of all time?

MK: The fact that Beyoncé is probably the biggest celebrity in the world today, and having photographed the most famous photo — of the most famous celebrity — is an honor that I take with great humility. I’m not saying that to show off — I’m saying that to thank God for the opportunity. I am glad that Beyoncé loves the photo so much. I’m glad that the world recognizes it as her most famous photo: It's been said many, many times that it is the most recognizable Beyoncé photo. So I'm very honored that people feel that way about it.

CM: What do you remember of the Beyoncé then, and the Beyoncé you've worked with since for other projects?

MK: I remember Beyoncé and being around her, seeing her as an extremely kind, very humble, very normal person. I’ve never felt any sort of diva behavior from her. Beyoncé was just really, really nice and normal. And she’s extremely hardworking, obviously extremely talented, not just with music and singing and acting, but also in the process of collaboration of a visual product such as these photographs I’ve done with her. She’s a very, very good collaborator.

There are people who are very famous, especially actors who sometimes, in front of the still camera, feel awkward. Sometimes comedians and actors need the movement, the momentum, the storytelling, the words in order to showcase their brilliance and their talent.

Not everyone is able in a 2/50th of a second to express all of that, but Beyoncé certainly has that incredible ability and I think that’s innate and subconscious and subliminal. She just knows where the light is coming from and she knows how to position it all in the most phenomenal way. And I guess I subliminally know how to catch it. So it’s really one of those very, very easy collaborations.

CM: Speaking of collaborations, you are able to crystallize a pop icon’s entire era in a single exposure unlike perhaps anyone I’ve ever seen. Did you know that Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lizzo are all from Houston — they all grew up just a mere 30 minutes from each other.

MK: Wow, I did not know that.

CM: Yes, we’re home to three of the biggest female pop stars in the world. So I wonder: Megan Thee Stallion is truly in the midst of her moment. Is she someone you’d like to shoot next?

MK: Well, let me answer it this way...I hope that Megan reads your interview, because I absolutely love Megan and I would love to work with her — and they should call me. I love her.

CM: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask: What is your favorite Beyoncé song?

MK: Oh, I would say “Crazy In Love” is one of my favorites. There are obviously many, but I'm probably biased to that album. That's one of my proudest collaborations, so, of course, I’m biased. Can you blame me? [Laughs]

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Beyonc\u00e9 Dangerously in Love

Courtesy of Markus Klinko

Markus Klinko captured Beyoncé's favorite portrait in 2003 for her Dangerously in Love debut solo album.

Courtesy of Markus Klinko


Countdown to Beyoncé: Trill Burgers shortens hours to serve massive NRG Stadium crowd

respect the beyhive

Since it opened in June, Trill Burgers has been unstoppable. Bun B’s burger joint has seen lines out the door, fed celebrities ranging from Drake to Mike Tyson, and caused literal traffic jams with its drive-thru.

But even a juggernaut like Trill Burgers knows better than to mess with the Beyhive. For this weekend only (September 23 and 24), the Montrose-area restaurant will only be open from 11 am to 2 pm. Operating with such limited hours will allow Trill Burgers to feed the sold out crowds flocking to NRG Stadium for Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour.

“We want to make sure that we have our stations fully stocked so that people don't miss this amazing show that she's bringing,” Bun said in a video posted to social media. “We know the Beyhive don't play and Trill Burgers don't play either.”

In order to ensure people get their burgers as quickly as possible, Trill Burgers is slimming down its menu to only serve beef burgers — sorry, vegans. In addition, it will impose a limit of two burgers per person.

Due to the stage setup, Trill Burgers will only operate two of its usual four stands. They are Sections 135 and 548.

Of course, CultureMap has you covered for everything related to this weekend’s concerts. Don’t miss our guides for what to wear, events celebrating Beyoncé, and the latest traffic and parking info.

Countdown to Beyoncé: Parking, closures, rideshares, and more for NRG Stadium

bey prepared

The countdown is on for Beyoncé's highly anticipated shows in Houston this weekend, and ABC13 has everything you need to know for an easy ride over to NRG Stadium to see Queen Bey.

This weekend's gridlock alert isn't like any other, as more traffic is anticipated than usual in the South Loop area towards the venue on both Saturday and Sunday.

Here's what you need to know:


Drivers, if you decide to park directly at NRG Stadium, know all lots will have $40 cashless parking.

Parking is available in the orange, red, maroon, blue, yellow, green and purple lots. ADA parking is available in all of the lots.

If you're getting a ride, you can get dropped off and picked up at the Yellow Lot. The entrance will be through Gate 16B off Main Street.

METRORail riders can take the Red Line from the Fannin South Lot, which has $20 parking, and get off at the Stadium Park/Astrodome Station exit.EMBED <>MORE VIDEOS

Ready to Renaissance? Here's what you should know before Queen Bey's Houston concerts.

SEE ALSO: Beyoncé's favorite things: 9 places star has stopped before in Houston


But what about getting there on time?

If you're driving in from Fort Bend County or the southwest side, the Southwest Freeway will be closed at the West Loop, so you might want to avoid that.

All mainlanes will be closed starting Friday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m. You can use US-90 as your alternate route.

For those coming from the east side, including San Jacinto and all points beyond that along the East Freeway, avoid the East Loop altogether.

You'll see northbound and southbound closures between Market and Clinton Street from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Sunday.

So, for Saturday night's concert, you can drive toward downtown and south on Highway 288 to catch the West Loop over to NRG Stadium.

If you plan to use METRO to head to NRG, they plan to put more of their trains in service about three hours before the start of Beyoncé's concerts each day.


Continue reading this story on our news partner ABC13.