It is my favorite time of year: fall. I am always eager to write pieces on fall fashion (see my transitional fall piece of the past here), but found myself stumped this year. This fall is remarkably different from the ones we have seen before. Time has seemed to stop. What is fall? Are we really already halfway through it? How can we bring fashion into this brave new world that seems to know nothing of time? How do you stay chic while limiting your interactions? The places we go are different and the things we engage in are certainly not the same. However, our ever-changing world keeps spinning, despite a pandemic. So naturally, us fashionistas (and fashion-forward gents) must evolve as well. Here at Houston Hotel Magazine for our seasonal fashion piece, we consider at-home fashion options, a few outfits to have on deck for events we might attend, and end our fashion analysis by asking readers to consider treating yourself for sticking it out during this exhausting year.
Around the House
First, let’s talk about loungewear. It does not take a rocket scientist to calculate that we have been using all of our “around the house,” genre of clothes ad nauseum for the past several months. So why shouldn’t we treat ourselves to the coziest of options? This author recently had a birthday and I was gifted the most magnificent set of cozies I have owned to this date. Behold, Barefoot Dreams Cozychic Ultra Lite set.
(image courtesy of Magpie’s Gifts).
What makes this set special is the adorable pullover, that, believe it or not, can be worked post quarantine. The pullover has a drawstring waist and is made of a fabric so soft, you’ll feel like you are being kissed by angels. I myself have discovered that it looks fantastic with your favorite pair of skinny jeans. Good news for our male readers if this set doesn’t come in your size-you too can feel the fuzzy joy in the form of a blanket that is also available here. Happy lounging ladies and gents!
Gameday or Watch Parties
Many of us have a circle of friends or family members we have had the opportunity to keep in our “inner circle,” mid-pandemic. If your friends are from the South, like ours, you know football or sports, in general, have stopped for no man (or woman). This season is no exception! College football will be around until the championship on January 1st, so there will be plenty of time to support your favorite team. I have had the honor of watching more than one football game with trusted friends and found myself asking-what should I wear? Luckily the lovely ladies of Hemline River Oaks stepped up to help us with some styling. Their location has a collection of cute shirts for every team you can imagine.
Longhorn or Aggie? They have you covered. Check out their curated feed of looks here on their Instagram to get an idea of the quality of clothing and styling you can expect when stopping into their store!
We loved working with this group to put together this look below-you can snag everything from boots to purse from Hemline River Oaks. For football watch parties, comfort is key, so the team paired a cozy spirit t-shirt with an adorable leather-textured skirt. Because it is fall, no matter what the thermometer says, the team paired a pair of cowhide booties with a felt hat for a look that reads “gameday fall chic.” We are taking notes.
For engaged couples, this year has been troubling, to say the least. While they would love to be supportive “in sickness and in health,” that does not mean that couples want to take a risk with their wedding guests’ health. Based on CDC standards, many venues previously used, might not be safe now.
As a byproduct, 2020 has seen a wave of outdoor weddings. From ranches to beaches to backyards, betrothals have been given a breath of fresh air-literally. Since the staff of Hemline River Oaks was so helpful in our outfit planning, we decided to see what the crew had in mind for attending an outdoor wedding.
The Hemline team styled our lovely model in a universally flattering silk piece that could be used to attend an outdoor wedding, or for another formal, outdoor event. This maxi length dress elevates a timeless fabric via beautiful draping. This perennial piece is available in a variety of colors and would look lovely under a classic coat if the weather cools off.
It’s no secret that this year has been hard on all of us. We think it’s time for a little TLC. Our favorite kind of self-care sparkles. Cue a visit to our friends at deBoulle. We have written about how they are the coolest jeweler in the area, and we mean it. This jeweler is known to provide exceptional quality service to its clientele. Some say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I believe that rubies are a girl’s best friend (sorry Marilyn…) and you can find your new best friend at deBoulle. They have a gorgeous ring, featured at the top of this article, that will light up any room. Rubies have a rich coloring that harkens to fall or winter and warm our hearts. Local Houstonians will know deBoulle has a collection of drool-worthy timepieces to suit any watch lover. Consider grabbing one if you don’t want to be late to any more Zoom conference calls. Another pick we loved from deBoulle provides more of the glitter you might need to light up your world right now-a set of beautiful bangles. Nothing can help you beat the quarantine blues like a wrist full of chic glamour. This versatile set, pictured below, can be dressed up or down, and will surely become a staple in your day to day wardrobe.
This time next year we hope to share fabulous fashion from around the Houston area again. We hope to be sharing outfits to wear to travel in or outfits to attend the ballet in. We hope to be sharing a great gown for a gallery opening or gala, but while the world is slowly starting to open up again, we hope you stay safe, sound, and stylish in interim!
Scorching heat, a global pandemic, and uncertain times across the country all are an almost apocalyptic reality we have been living in 2020. Luckily for us, there is a reprieve within reach summarized in one word: staycation. Staycations offer an opportunity to get away without going far. Staycations offer the ability to clear minds without having to board a plane or jet. Staycations offer a holiday close to home. And fall promising a cool, crispness in the air, is upon us!
We searched Houston to find hotels and restaurants featuring safety measures to ensure you are comfortable during your stay away from home. The hotels we are featuring today require guests to wear masks in their common areas and fully sterilize their rooms prior to guests starting their stay. You can enjoy your time without worrying about personal safety.
Now, let’s talk about location. In Houston, there are two luxurious hotels that we suggest for a weekend stay. You might even want to stay more than a few days once you give these gorgeous spots a shot. There are two fabulous and chic parts of town you can explore while on your fall staycation, so we wrote about some nearby places to visit as well .
The Hotel ZaZa and The Museum District
If you are looking for a chic, modern spot to sit and enjoy gorgeous poolside views, consider booking a weekend at The Hotel ZaZa. This boutique hotel chain now has several locations, but the location in Houston’s Museum District is nothing short of a piece of art. Speaking of art, this hotel features several gorgeous pieces of art throughout the hotel lobby and located within rooms. For an opulent weekend, be sure to upgrade your stay to a suite. Suites with the ZaZa feature a variety of amenities available contingent upon which suite guests select. Suites feature full-sized living rooms, additional sleeping spaces, and even full-sized kitchens. My personal favorite suite feature: a hot tub on the patio overlooking Hermann Park in a popular room called the Tycoon.
If you are tense from months of being at home, fear not! The Hotel ZaZa features a top-notch spa. Massages, facials, and special baths are available to help you unwind. The ZaZa also features an array of amenities, not to be overshadowed by one of it’s best-the secluded, unique pool area. Individual cabanas are available to rent overlook with beautiful views of the neighborhood. Located onsite there is also dining, a bar, and gym facilities so you can stay onsite for your whole visit if you so choose or venture out to the rest of the Museum District.
Things to Do:
The Museum District is one of the gems of the greater Houston area for a reason. As its name indicates, this area has some of the best attractions in town. Have a visit appreciating some of the finest art collections in the country and even enjoying the natural beauty on the campuses of these collections.
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005)- with one of the largest collections of art in the country, this sprawling mecca of art hosts over 64,000 works in its various buildings. This is always a must-stop in any staycation itinerary.
McGovern Centennial Gardens (1500 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004)- If you are looking for a classically gorgeous garden, McGovern is your spot. Just a hop, skip, and a step away from museums also features sculptures for the avid art consumer that also loves the outdoors.
The Menil Collection (1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006)- This museum hosts a collection of modern art, features the Rothko Chapel, The Byzantine Fresco Chapel, and a full campus of engaging activities available to guests.
Locations to Dine:
In the past, this area had a bit of shortage when it came to places to dine. Thankfully, Houston is now one of the hippest food hotspots in the whole country and the Houston Museum District hosts two fantastic options we are happy to recommend.
The Pit Room (1201 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006)- this BBQ restaurant features dishes full of flavor for a down-home treat. The Pit Room is a great stop for a lunch mid museum day.
MF Sushi (1401 Binz St Ste 100, Houston, TX 77004)- if you love sushi, this is the place featuring a traditional Japanese style menu with an option to call ahead for Omasake-a specialty chef-prepared meal. Be sure to pop by for a lovely dinner that will not disappoint.
The Post Oak Hotel and Uptown Houston
If you are looking for a truly luxe experience, look no further than the area’s’ only five-diamond rated gem, The Post Oak Hotel. Located in the elegant Uptown area, this hotel’s property features not only truly exceptional lodging, but also features office spaces, restaurants, and shopping. Upon entering this stunning new lobby, guests are struck by high ceilings, unique art, an unusual chandelier, and a poolside view.
Suites at The Post Hotel features a bar, living room quarters, and an unparalleled peek at Houston from up high.
The Post Oak Hotel is not limited to suites or rooms, however. The hotel features two fantastic spots to dine within the building and within the same parking lot, two Houston restaurant classics. This site also features a full-service spa, with every service you can imagine. Sprawling a massive 20,000 square feet, this spa is truly a retreat you can easily get lost in for a full day if you so choose.
Another avenue to complete relaxation is to spend the day poolside. Servers can offer drinks or food poolside, which boasts of an almost art deco design with in-pool lounge chairs. This area also features five cabanas available for rent with an old Hollywood feel.
What makes The Post Oak Hotel unique is an array of experiences exclusive to this hotel. Perhaps one of the most distinctive features on this hotel’s property is a Rolls Royce/Bentley dealership. But the most outstanding experiences this hotel offered aren’t necessarily the visible ones. This hotel takes hospitality to the next level by having optional Experiences on Demand featuring the opportunities to visit tigers, sharks, take helicopter rides across the city, taste fine wines or whiskeys, and many other exciting adventures that are a booking away.
Things to Do:
The Uptown area of Houston features some of the best shopping in Houston. With more than just stores, this part of town has a little something for everyone.
The Rooftop Cinema Club (1700 Post Oak Blvd Fl 5, Houston, TX 77056)- if you are looking for an outdoor, socially distant night of fun or miss your movie going days, this is your spot.
Elizabeth Anthony (1180 Uptown Park Blvd #8, Houston, TX 77056)- an elegant storefront with a rotating cycle of renowned designers makes this shop one of the best places to go for eveningwear or handbags in Houston.
The Rustic (1121 Uptown Park Blvd Ste 4, Houston, TX 77056)- this outdoor venue is one of the few places in Houston you can catch live music safely (following health regulations) every Thursday-Sunday while dining on some tasty treats.
Locations to Dine:
The Post Oak Hotel features several restaurants on its grounds including the well-known Maestros, which is a great option for a steak dinner. However, if you care to venture off The Post Oak’s extensive property, there are several options nearby.
Craft Pita (1920 Fountain View Dr, Houston, TX 77057)- a delightful spot for lunch run by a team of professionals will ensure you have the best lunch you can get in the area from a local business owner.
North Italia (1700 Post Oak Blvd Ste 190, Houston, TX 77056)- fresh-made pasta and an amazing bolognese you won’t quickly forget makes this restaurant a necessary stop on your itinerary for your staycation.
Peli Peli South African Kitchen (5085 Westheimer Rd Ste B2515, Houston, TX 77056)- despite being located in the traffic-heavy Galleria, this spot will transport you to a different part of the world featuring a diverse menu full of delight.
America’s Coolest Jeweler – 2020
de Boulle has been named America’s Coolest Jewelry Store by INSTORE, the magazine for the North American jewelry store owner. The Dallas, TX, business took first place in the Big Cool division for stores with six employees or more. In Houston, de Boulle Diamond and Jewelry Patek Philippe Showroom is located in the ever-so chic River Oaks Shopping District.
More than 80 stores took part in the 19th annual contest that highlights the best examples of independent jewelry retailers in North America.
“Every year, we feel privileged to bring our readers the best of the best in our industry,” said Trace Shelton, INSTORE’s editor-in-chief. “From its warm, modern showroom to its cozy lounge and 1959 Le Mans-winning race car replica, de Boulle certainly qualifies. But a store wouldn’t really fit our ‘cool’ criteria if it weren’t for such aspects as innovative marketing, creative retail environment and a unique work culture.”
Stores are judged in exterior appearance, interior appearance, store biography, marketing, web presence and overall individuality.
The top three winners in two divisions (“Small Cool” and “Big Cool”) are featured in the August issue of INSTORE and at instoremag.com. Honorable Mention stores are featured as monthly Cool Stores in issues of INSTORE from September 2020 through June 2021.
Crafting the de Boulle Experience: Welcome to the VIP treatment.
When Karen and Denis Boulle began consulting with store designers about the reinvention of their 20-year-old Dallas flagship store, it soon became clear that in addition to making the space lighter, brighter and more modern, they had something more unusual in mind.
They wanted room for a race car.
The Boulles have a personal interest in racing, and their son, Nick, is a de Boulle team member as well as a professional driver. de Boulle has a motorsports division, which has allowed Nick to compete in endurance racing such as Le Mans and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Nick has won first place at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and this year was awarded second place in the same race.
“Yes, it was an unusual request, but it’s very much a part of what they do beyond jewelry,” says Laura Loreman, interior-design associate with Gensler, the global architecture, design and planning firm. “It ties into who they are as a family and aligns with their brand. Even just displaying the awards would be a fun little moment in the store. So why not take it a step further?”
Last year, de Boulle partnered with Aston Martin, as well as the family of famed driver Carroll Shelby, and an artist who had recently painted a portrait of Nick from a race at Le Mans. The event, called Tour de Force, explored Shelby’s racing legacy, which tied in with the unveiling of the “Ford vs. Ferrari” movie and commemorated Shelby’s 1959 win at Le Mans. The intimate event included cars, portraits, jewelry and, from the vault of Carroll Shelby, a Patek Philippe timepiece.
At the beginning of December, the Boulles, ready to unveil the 1959 Le Mans-winning car replica in the store, had the newly installed front doors removed to make room.
The Boulles’ interest in cars, Denis says, has had a huge impact on the business. “Over the years, we have found that many of the people who collect cars also collect jewelry and watches,” he says. “Plus, the branding and marketing side has been very helpful in making de Boulle more than just a jewelry store. It is an extension of the de Boulle lifestyle. We often invite clients to racing events all over the world: from Daytona Beach in Florida to Spa in Belgium to Le Mans in France. Our VIP racing experience is incredible, and the ultimate experience. Our clients are part of all the action in the pit and get the chance to become part of history.”
Denis says many Dallas clients are just as passionate about cars as the Boulle family and will stop by to show off their latest acquisitions. “People get excited to show off their brand-new Porsche or McLaren, which we enjoy because we love cars just as much and it adds to the experience.”
“I think this is also the case with having a race car on display in the store. People just can’t get this experience anywhere else.” Long before the “where to put the race car” discussion, Karen Boulle had been telling her husband that it was time to update their Dallas store.
It was still beautiful, of course, and had been built to look like a French-style villa. But what had been the height of elegant jewelry-store design 20-plus years ago, and one of America’s Coolest Stores in 2007, had started to look dated and dark, Denis concedes.
“We all agreed we needed to modernize the flagship store and offer a cohesive experience across both our Dallas and Houston stores,” stated Denis.
In 2016, de Boulle’s Houston store, designed by Gensler, was featured as America’s Coolest Store and considered by the Boulles to be a prototype for future ventures. At the time, Karen described the Houston space as open and welcoming, classical and timeless, and neither too cutting edge nor old fashioned. Gensler incorporated residential design features into that space, particularly in the comfortable yet compact lounge area. The Houston store occupies less than 2,000 square feet, while Dallas has a 9,000 square foot showroom, allowing a much more expansive canvas for expanding on themes introduced in Houston.
“We always try to make our clients feel at home while shopping with us,” Karen says. “Our Dallas store feels more like someone’s home with its bigger seating and bar area. We wanted the remodel to be modern and current, and really showcase the jewelry and the watches, just like Houston.”
The Dallas renovation would coincide with the addition of what they describe as their crown jewel, a second Patek Philippe dedicated showroom. The one they opened in Houston was the first in the world.
Plans for the extensive remodel included painting, plaster, lighting, flooring, jewelry cases, metal work, carpeting, new furnishings, offices and cabinetry and updated bathrooms. And it would be fairly tricky, since they had no plans to close during the process.
“Until the COVID-19 closures, we have never chosen to close our store in over 36 years of business,” Denis says. “So, for me, it was never an option, regardless of our extensive remodel.” They closed off most of the downstairs space and served clients in the bar area. “We had very limited showcases,” Karen says, “but we could still serve drinks and make people happy.”
The design proceeded one zone at a time. The Boulles were amazed by how many people shopped during that time, driven, at least in part, by curiosity. “It was almost like they wanted to see what was inside of the tornado,” Nick Boulle says.
“We are grateful that we had our customers’ support during construction,” Denis says. “And, I owe a huge thanks to our employees for how they handled the remodel, because it was a nightmare. I don’t know how everyone kept their cool and composure with the awful noises and jackhammers going off.”
Despite the challenges of working in the eye of the construction storm, glitches were few. Karen had found two sparkly, eye-catching chandeliers from Italy, which were carefully installed by electricians over a few days. “Just as we thought they were finishing up,” says Nick, “they realized that the chandeliers were not UL certified. So, they had to take them down. The chandeliers were put back in their boxes and sent to another location, reassembled to test to ensure they met code, fully taken apart again, and then returned and installed at the store, for a second time.”
For this project, as they had for Houston, the Boulles turned to Gensler. Loreman, who also worked on the Houston store, studied the size and shape of cases and floor-plan possibilities to reimagine the space without significantly revising the architecture. “A lot of the meetings we had were spent tape measure in hand, making sure we had all the proper distances and clearances and appropriate heights,” Loreman says.
Before the renovation, cases were tall and had the effect of closing off the voluminous space somewhat, creating an obstacle and obscuring visibility. Now, lower case heights draw people in, both visually and physically, rather than stopping their progress. The airy and inviting design celebrates the arched ceiling that runs down the center of the store. The lighting, too, draws attention to the space. “The chandeliers helped ground everything and they give the cases below a sense of place in the store,” Loreman says.
Candle cases, the taller vitrine cases in the back of the store, are illuminated to both draw the eye and set the stage for the transition to the Patek Philippe showroom. Wall colors are warm and cool gray tones, combining residential warmth with modern crispness. While the palette is simple and neutral, a variety of texture and patina adds interest. The effect is to give the whole store a consistently lighter look, to align with the Houston store and to complement the Patek Philippe space.
For the Boulle family, success flows from what they love to do, whether it’s racing, entertaining, designing jewelry or forging relationships with a top watch brand.
“Since opening in 1983,” says Denis Boulle, “We have lived by the idea of following our passions – offering customers premier collections of fine jewelry, luxury timepieces, and impeccable service in a beautiful and friendly environment that radiates our love of design and lifestyle. We call this the de Boulle Experience, and this is what makes shopping with us a VIP style experience.”
Five Cool Things About de Boulle
1 IN-HOUSE MARKETING. All marketing is produced in-house. From social media to an annual magazine, the goal is to convey luxury and the de Boulle lifestyle. The annual magazine has twice featured model and spokesperson Niki Taylor as the face of de Boulle. de Boulle launched its new e-commerce website last year and designed it to be striking, elegant and easy to navigate. The marketing team works with professional photographers to capture de Boulle jewelry on models and in lifestyle and still shots.
2 STAFF EXPERTISE. de Boulle has an on-site watchmaker and jeweler and two GIA gemologists; the remainder of the staff are pursuing GIA accredited jewelry professional degrees. Timepiece specialists have received training in Switzerland. The staff is versatile, all able to wear multiple hats in a team-friendly environment. Many have been employed for over 10 years, and some have been on staff for more than 20.
3 COMMUNITY OUTREACH. From sponsorships and donations to events, de Boulle has supported Camp Sweeney, the Family Place, and the SPCA of Texas. They host charity events several times a year, often donating a piece of jewelry, which attracts new supporters. Their annual event with Camp Sweeney is a kick-off party for programs for children with type 1 diabetes.
4 A FAMILY OF DESIGNERS. The de Boulle Collection jewelry is designed and curated by Karen, who is attracted to unusual gemstones and inspired by her childhood travels. Last year the collection began to include men’s jewelry designed by son Nick. Additionally, collaborating with daughter Emma, who has joined the business, Karen created fun and affordable designs that appeal to a younger clientele.
5 THE NAME. The Boulle name stems from Parisian André Charles Boulle (1642-1732), who became known for his skillful work in the field of marquetry. His style of work was eventually dubbed “Boulle.” In French, “de” means “of” or “from” — “of Boulle” or “from Boulle.” Having “de” in front of your last name in France also carries stature in the French language and in Europe.
For further information, please contact Joshua Garcia at jgarcia@deBoulle.com
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