Photo courtesy of Freebird

Houston shoppers now have two more reasons to visit the Houston Galleria for the ultimate retail experience. The bustling shopping center, which is always busy despite mall naysayers, has added two in-demand names to its already impressive lineup.

Iconic Swiss luxury brand Bally and Colorado-based bootmaker Freebird have set up shop in Houston's shopping mecca, in time for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and spring fashion hunts.

Bally has been making waves on the luxury leather goods market since 1851. Their iconic leather shoes are handcrafted in Casiano Switzerland by a team of multi-generational artisans. What started with shoes has since turned into a full collection of bags, accessories and ready-to-wear pieces for both men and women.

Shoppers can pursue the latest collection of Bally jewelry and the debut of the brand's Spring/Summer 2023 collection by creative director Rhuigi Villasenor. Their Galleria outpost is located on level 1 near the Galleria Financial Center.

Freebird kicks up in Houston just in time for rodeo season. Freebird boots aren't run of the mill cowboy boots; the Colorado-based brand is known for their hand finished and detailed boots and booties. Look for funky designs with distressed leather, exotic skins, and expandable back lacing panels — making many of their styles size inclusive.

The new store, located on Level 1 between Macy's and Nordstrom, is fully stocked with their spring and summer collection. For those looking for a unique western moment, highlights include peep-toe booties and multi-strap styles.

Galleria regulars can also expect a change to the mall footprint with several stores relocating or opening up in temporary spaces during renovations. Prada, Saint Laurent, and Burberry will be temporarily relocated on levels one and two, while athleisure favorite Lululemon has new permanent digs on level two between Galleria Financial Center and Neiman Marcus.

women wearing boots

Photo courtesy of Freebird

Freebird makes its Houston debut at the Galleria.

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Good taste: What your favorite Girl Scout cookie flavor says about where you shop in Houston

mix and match

It is that time of year again. Girl Scout cookie season officially launches in Houston on Saturday, February 11. Just in time for Super Bowl LVII and Valentine's Day celebrations, entrepreneurial-spirited Girl Scouts will be knocking on doors and selling delicious treats in front of major retailers all over the city.

From February to April each year, Girl Scout cookies outsell every other cookie on the market, bringing in an impressive $800 million. One hundred percent of the money earned by area troops stays in Houston and is used for council-sponsored programs, events, properties, training, and scholarships.

Typically, 12 to 13 cookies are in the lineup each season, and this year the Raspberry Rally cookie will debut as an online exclusive. The cookie is described as a "sister" to the Thin Mint – a thin crunchy cookie infused with raspberry flavor and coated in chocolate.

This cookie season it is even easier to snag a box of the decadent treats. Cookie fans can just type their zip code into the Find Cookies! search box or text COOKIES to 59618 to receive updates about Girl Scout Cookie availability in Houston.

Every cookie enthusiast has a favorite, but according to Girl Scouts USA, the highest-selling varieties are Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Adventurefulls, and Peanut Butter Sandwich.

Now, for tried-and-true Thin Mints devotees and Peanut Butter Sandwich fanatics, we break down the hard-hitting question of what the top five favorite Girl Scout cookies say about your style personality. (And of course, where to shop in Houston.)

Thin Mints

You are: Timeless, elegant, elevated

Your style mantra: Investment pieces never go out of style.

Shop favorites include:Tootsies, Elizabeth Anthony, Saks Fifth Avenue

Thin MintThin Mints reign supreme as the best-selling Girl Scout cookie.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Caramel deLites

You are: Edgy, fun-loving, not afraid to stand out

Your style mantra: More is more.

Shop favorites include:J. Landa Jewelry, Zadig & Voltaire, Abejas Boutique

SamoaCaramel deLites are also named Samoas in other parts of the country and next to Thin Mints - they are a fan-favorite.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Peanut Butter Patties

You are: Feminine, warm, charismatic

Your style mantra: It's what's on the inside that counts.

Shop favorites include:LoveShack Fancy, Frock Shop, Top Drawer Lingerie

Peanut Butter PattyPeanut Butter Patties are the best of both worlds - chocolate AND peanut butter.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA


You are: Sporty, independent, well-traveled

Your style mantra: Look good, feel good.

Shop favorites include:Accel Lifestyle, Outdoor Voices, Rebecca Lankford Designs

Chocolate cookieIf Adventurefulls are your favorite - you love the outdoors, sports and have an overnight bag at the ready.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Peanut Butter Sandwich

You are: Relaxed, warm, dependable

Your style mantra: Comfort is key.

Shop favorites include:Christy Lynn Collection, Kendra Scott, Hemline

Peanut butter cookiePeanut Butter Sandwich cookies elicit a relaxed and dependable feeling.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

New 2023 Flavor: Raspberry Rallie

You are: Creative, artsy, eclectic

Your style mantra: There is no such thing as too much color.

Shop favorites include:Leopard Lounge, Veronica Beard, Gucci

Raspberry cookieRaspberry Rally cookies will make their online only debut this season.Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts USA

Raspberry Rally is the newest Girl Scout cookie flavor and will be the first-ever online exclusive.

Photo courtesy of LoveShack Fancy.

Where to shop in Houston right now: 14 must-hit spots for February


The Beatles coined the phrase "can't buy me love," but they probably weren't shopping for a discerning partner on the year's most romantic holiday.

Those looking forward to Valentine's Day and shopping to create a special day of romantic bliss won't be alone. It turns out that most of us will be buying for the special people in our lives. According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, shoppers are predicted to spend a staggering $25.9 billion on Valentine's Day this year – one the highest spending years on record.

To ease the shopping pressure and increase the shopping pleasure – we've put together a list of the best places to shop for everything Valentine's Day related across all categories, including romance, gal pals, self-care, and of course, our furry friends.

Elizabeth Anthony

Elizabeth Anthony is hosting can't-miss events in the Uptown Park boutique. Highlights include the store's annual Designer Evening Showcase featuring eveningwear with an opportunity to earn a $1,000 gift card and an exciting shopping event for Galentine's Day. On February 9, the store will host Girl's Day Out featuring in-store sweet treats, drinks, and shopping surprises. Shoppers can also check out trunk shows from Assael Fine Jewelry, Judith Leiber Couture Handbags, and the Chris Davies Fine Jewelry Collection Trunk Show with a personal appearance. Details for in-store happenings are available here.


Luxury brand Finley shirts, known for their soft cotton and ruffled collars, have mastered closet staples since they began designing clothing 25 years ago. Finley Shirts are made for the gal that loves all things pink for Valentine's Day. The line features shirt dresses, skirts, and tops perfect for the pink and red-themed holiday. Finley can be found at Tootsies and Neiman Marcus.

Golden Boutique

The coveted Ellsworth+Ivey Crewneck "HOU" sweater is back in stock at Golden. The custom knit sweater is made from an acrylic blend and is lightweight enough for Houston's temperamental weather. Snag one before they are gone again.


Southern Cali-based brand Gorjana will launch a new collection of stunning, heart-shaped pieces just in time for Valentine's Day. The new line, available in stores on February 6, features rings, earrings, and necklaces in Gojana's signature laid-back style.

IW Marks Jewelers

For nearly 50 years, IW Marks Jewelers has been a go-to for great Valentine's Day gifts. On the heels of its complete renovation, they put together a gift guide perfect for the most romantic day of the year. Dazzling diamonds, engagement rings, fashion jewelry, and gifts for him are available at the Bellaire store.

Kendra Scott

Beloved jewelry maven Kendra Scott recently released two new capsule collections. Yellow Rose by Kendra Scott is a Texas ranch-inspired capsule collection exclusively online and at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The 56-piece collection was designed with the Modern Cowgirl in mind, and for those looking for something to wear on Valentine's Day, the brand just released its Valentine's Day collection with pieces for both men and women.

For those wanting even more of Kendra, the Houston Rockets are hosting a Kendra Gives Back Party at the Kendra Scott Houston Heights store on Tuesday, February 7, from 6:30 pm-8:00 pm. During the event, Kendra Scott will give 20% of the proceeds back to Clutch City Foundation. Guests can expect special appearances from Clutch, KJ Martin (Houston Rockets Forward), and the Clutch City Dancers. RSVP to the event here.


Léránt is one of Houston's top destinations for gifts and decor. Score colored glasses, gorgeous dishes, and V-Day-themed linens to create a stunning tablescape for a Galentine's Day dinner or shop for unique gifts. Visit the Galleria-area store for a Margarita Mercantile Pop-Up on February 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Shop Mexican-inspired dresses, Valentine's Day gifts, and decor. Margarita Mercantile merchandise will remain in the store through the weekend.

Lewis & Maese

Art and home decor enthusiasts will be delighted to shop the Lewis & Maese's Sawyer Yards location closing event, The Sale at Sawyer. Deal-savvy shoppers can take advantage of huge savings on thousands of items, including new, gently used antique furniture, rugs, lighting, paintings, sculpture and accessories, handbags, and jewelry. The sale has also helped shoppers find great deals on statuary, pianos, linens, fossils, furs, crystals, and southwestern silver and turquoise pieces – among many other finds. Saturday, February 4 – doors open at 11 am, and the auction begins at 1 pm; Sunday, February 5 – doors open at 11 am, and the auction starts at 1 pm.

Native Citizen

Shop contemporary home decor and art at the new location of Native Citizen by Williwest Design Studio on 19th Street in the Heights. The store is known for mixing vintage objects with modern elements to create a unique lifestyle and features art by local artists Edgar Medina and Sonya Cuellar.

LoveShack Fancy

Floral favorite LoveShack Fancy has teamed up with wellness brand BelliWelli for an exclusive launch of their probiotic chocolate chip snack bar. Snag a treat from the collab's pink floral bar stands. The super cute bars will be free with all in-store purchases in LoveShack Fancy's River Oaks District Store.

Look Lifestyle

The mother-and-daughter team behind Look Lifestyle focused on providing luxury and relaxation this Valentine's Day. The Lily Rose Nightgown is lightweight, breathable, and made from a poly-silk and spandex blend. Pair the gown with their artisan-made Babe Towels for the ultimate in-home retreat.


No one is more deserving of our attention and cuddles than our pups. Spoil them with gifts from ultra-glam pet boutique Pucci this Valentine's Day. Pucci carries a full range of heart-themed clothing items, including sweaters, toys, and treats.

Urban Harvest

Shop locally for Valentine's Day at Urban Harvest's third annual Sweetheart Festival on Saturday, February 11, from 9 am to 11 pm. Houstonians will have the opportunity to support local growers and makers to prepare for Valentine's Day. Shoppers can learn from citrus tree expert Bill Arndt and taste seasonal chocolate-covered Atkinson's strawberries dipped on-site by market vendor Xocolla Chocolate. There will also be games, prizes, and crafts for the whole family at the Valentine's Day-themed event.

woman shopping

Photo courtesy of LoveShack Fancy.

Check out the LoveShack Fancy + BelliWelli collab at their RIver Oaks District store.

Zadok Jewelers

The posh Post Oak jewelry store has put together a Valentine's Day gift guide and two events to make the month much sweeter. Round up the besties to shop their Galentine's Day Soirée on Friday, February 10, from noon to 6 pm and score 20 percent off Zadok Collection for your sweetheart or yourself. Experience the new collection from Parisian designer Dinh Van on February 10-11 from 10 am to 6 pm and shop an expanded selection of modern, wearable jewelry, notably worn by the cast of Emily in Paris during the show's latest season.

And, a swoon-worthy bonus...


Ditch the flowers and chocolate and get yourself or your loved one something extra-luxe from Gucci. The formidable fashion house put together a host of options anyone would love to receive on Valentine's Day. Shop at the brand's Galleria outpost and choose from the Ophidia GG heart utility belt, Aphrodite small shoulder bag, Aluminum GG cabin trolley, and so much more.

Photo courtesy of gucci.com

Gucci opens luxe new outpost in The Woodlands with iconic brand's latest looks

Cosmogonie in the woodlands

Fashion-forward shoppers have a new location to get their latest Gucci fix, as the iconic brand just added one more Houston boutique to its luxury lineup.

Their latest emporium, which opened on Friday, January 27 in The Woodlands Mall (1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., Suite 700), marks the brand's ninth store in their continued expansion in the Lone Star State.

The expansive store spans 6,500 square feet, where customers can explore Gucci's luxury range of leather goods and accessories, including the Blondie line. Guests are also invited to discover the fashion house's Cosmogonie collection, first presented in May 2022 in Puglia, Italy.

Woodlands shoppers can expect a relaxed and welcoming store with custom-painted geometric wood floors with a three-dimensional effect at the new boutique. Vintage displays and sumptuous fabrics are also hallmarks of the new outpost.

Pink iron walls and pink velvet upholstery in the fitting rooms add to the Gucci drama, while the vintage oriental rugs and relaxing lounge chairs found throughout the store add to the laid-back vibe.

The Woodlands location marks the ninth Gucci boutique in Texas, marking the brand’s continued expansion in the Lone Star State.Photo by Gucci

The boutique spans over 6,500 square feet and showcases an expansive range of leather goods and accessories.Photo by Gucci

Gucci has also released a new après-ski line for days on and off the slopes, now available in Houston.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New grocery store's Houston debut leads top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week

1. New Houston-area grocery stores offer shoppers bulk restaurant food and supplies without a membership. Four locations are open now with two more coming soon.

2. Booming Houston 'burb named best place to buy a home and raise a family in America. The city earned high marks for its job market, housing availability, and more.

3. Brad Paisley joins George Strait and Selena with induction into RodeoHouston's prestigious Star Trail of Fame. This honor makes Paisley the 10th star honored with a gold plaque to commemorate his years of outstanding entertainment at the Rodeo.

4. Brad Paisley steals hearts — and a fan's phone — in his Star Trail of Fame RodeoHouston show. The performer brought the warmth from his plaque unveiling onto the stage in front of a sold out matinee crowd.

5. Houston's best burgers smash the game with exotic add-ons, beefed-up buns, and more. Presenting the nominees for Best Burger in the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

Netflix series Waco: American Apocalypse debuts with newly unearthed footage

Documentary News

Netflix has a new series on the tragedy that took place in Waco three decades ago: Called Waco: American Apocalypse, it's a three-part series documenting the standoff between cult leader David Koresh and the federal government that ended in a fiery inferno, televised live, with 76 people dead.

The series debuts on March 22, to coincide with the 30-year anniversary of the event which took place from February 28 to April 19, 1993.

It's an oft-told tale and not the only new release to try and exploit the 30-year anniversary: Jeff Guinn, former books editor at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, just came out with a book in January, also described as definitive, called Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage.

Waco: American Apocalypse is directed by another Texan: Dallas native Tiller Russell (Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer), who obtained never-before-seen videotapes of FBI negotiations, as well as raw news footage and interviews with insiders.

Those insiders include one of David Koresh’s spiritual wives; the last child released from the compound alive; a sniper from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team; the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit Chief; journalists; and members of the ATF tactical team who watched colleagues die in the shootout against the heavily armed members of the religious sect.

The FBI videotaped inside the hostage negation room, thinking they'd be there maybe 24 hours, not 51 days.

"These are video cassettes that were sitting in somebody’s closet for 30 years, that show the mechanics of hostage negotiations in an intimate setting - not the hostage negotiation scenarios you see in films, but a team of people grinding, day in and day out, for 51 days," Russell says.

He also procured footage from Waco TV station KWTX, who had a reporter embedded in the initial gunfight.

While the standoff was broadcast live on TV at the time, much of it was out of camera range. The film uses 3D graphics to recreate the details of the compound.

Russell acknowledges that the tale of the cult leader who was also a pedophile, the debate over the right to bear arms, the constitutional limits of religious freedom, dredge up painful conversations that continue today.

"It cast a long shadow, pre-saging the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma, the shooting at Colombine, and a growing distrust of government, but I think it's important to reckon with our past so we don't repeat mistakes," he says.

"So much of what’s roiling in culture today can be traced to Waco, a story about God and guns in America with all these children at the center whose lives were determined by the adults around them," he says. "There was no playbook for what happened, everyone was out on a limb, and people made mistakes. But almost everybody was trying to do their very best."

"I think this is a story that's often recalled in politicized terms, with finger-pointing on who screwed up and how did we get here, but there's a profound humanity to it all," he says.

Watch the trailer below:

Texas Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series during SXSW

Top Chef

Texas is proud to claim chef Kristen Kish as its own, but the Top Chef winner has always had a global mindset. She first earned her chops in French and Italian cuisine at Boston's acclaimed Menton restaurant, infusing those influences into the menu at Arlo Grey with a pioneering curiosity and adventurous spirit. Now, she's bringing that explorer's mindset to a new National Geographic series that debuted Tuesday, March 21.

Available on Disney+, Restaurants at the End of the World is a docuseries in which Kish travels to off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet. The four-part series follows Kish as she searches for the secret ingredients – people, places, culture, and traditions – within the world’s most remote restaurants in Boquete, Panama; Svalbard, Norway; North Haven Island, Maine; and Paraty, Brazil.

A lucky selection of South by Southwest (SXSW) attendees got a sneak peek of the series at a special dinner last week. The event took place inside Arlo Grey at the Line Hotel, where Kish mingled with guests and introduced clips from the upcoming series. A family-style dinner featured dishes inspired by different episodes of the series, from Maine-inspired Parker House rolls to Arctic char and strawberry semifreddo.

"This series is all about shared experiences and trading stories," Kish said, introducing the evening's menu. "So, when putting this menu together, I realized there are a lot of similarities. When I think back to all the places I went and new things I learned, there are so many familiar flavors to every bite that can bring you right back home into your own story."

The menu celebrated each location in the upcoming series, often in the same course: Parker House Rolls (with delicious whipped brown butter) were a nod to her New England episode ("Maine Island Barn Supper,"), paired with a scallop crudo commemoration of her time in Brazil ("Brazil’s Floating Feast,"). Meanwhile, the main course gave guests a glimpse of the great lengths Norwegian fishermen go to when harvesting Arctic char, accompanied by a clip of Kish's adventures with local purveyors in Svalbard, Norway.

The aim of both the dinner and the upcoming series is to showcase the tenacity it takes to run restaurants in such remote places. Each episode follows Kish behind the scenes with local purveyors, farmers, herders, kitchen crew, managers, and head chefs to hear their stories. She invites viewers along with her in the hunt for the best and freshest ingredients, unearthing the culture and heart behind global cuisine and showcasing the balancing act required to bring unique food to the table around the world.

“Food has an unparalleled power to bring us together and teach us about one another and the world around us, and we see that firsthand by going to restaurants in the world’s most remote areas,” says Chef Kish via release. “Filming this series with National Geographic was an adventure of a lifetime that taught me so much about an industry I’ve been steeped in my whole life. I can’t wait for viewers to come along on the journey with us and experience these dishes at restaurants most never even knew existed.”

The first episode of Restaurants around the World debuted on March 21.

Kristen Kish

Courtesy National Geographic

Top Chef winner Kristen Kish has a new National Geographic show that debuted on March 21.