PaperCity Magazine

March 2016 - Houston

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Page 13 of 83

FIFTH SAKS AVENUE'S NEW POWER PLAY H ouston has experienced a stream of retail firsts over the last few months — and now the grand finale is in sight: Saks Fifth Avenue opens its new 200,000-square-foot two-story store in the Galleria Tuesday, April 28. Special VIP events leading up to the public reveal include a cocktail reception with designer Erdem Moralioglu benefitting MD Anderson (and kicking off the hospital's 75th anniversary) on the eve of the opening. "It's going to be a very, very special store," says Bobby Dees, vice president and general manager of Saks Houston. The Houston Saks store typically ranks number three in the country in sales, behind New York and Beverly Hills. Dees, however, is bullish: "Our goal is to overtake the Beverly Hills store." The dramatic facade is a prelude to what customers will find inside, with designers new to Saks and some new to Houston, including Lanvin, Giambattista Valli, Prada, Azzedine Alaïa and Dries Van Noten. (A comprehensive list will be announced next month.) Designer muscle aside, the store itself might be the biggest attraction, with its stunning center staircase wrapping a bar, expanded shoe department, larger Fifth Avenue Club and a stunning new restaurant with two private dining rooms, and an expansive bar and BY FRANCINE BALLARD seating area. The 51Fifteen restaurant and bar were designed by Houston designer Nina Magon, Contour Interior Design. Menswear moves downstairs, while the celebrated 10022-Shoe Salon is to the right of the Westheimer entrance, with designer handbags to the left. Jewelry, including the storied brand Graff, which will have its own boutique, as will Pomellato, flanks the Sage Street entrance. Not to be outdone on the beauty front, the Houston store has the largest beauty and fragrance department outside of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York, including a Gucci Beauty boutique — the first (and only) one in Texas. The commanding venue — a temple to luxury fashion — will truly set new standards. With a bar in the restaurant that stays open late into the night, the space seems designed so that customers might never leave. Can't visit in person? Never fear, the store will come to you via a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Now, that's service. The new 51Fifteen restaurant at Saks Fifth Avenue A very special 200,000 square feet, opening April 28 "OUR GOAL IS TO OVERTAKE THE BEVERLY HILLS STORE." — BOBBY DEES RENDERING COURTESY CONTOUR INTERIOR DESIGN MIRTH HOUSE SISTERS KATIE McCLURE AND ERIN McCLURE BREEN INTRODUCE CHIC CAFTANS WITH A CAUSE. two-thirds of the collection is comprised of fabrics handmade either by loomers, block printers or dyers — ancient methods worth continuing for future generations. Each caftan comes in a clever Potli, a reusable cloth pouch perfect for sunscreen and shades for a trek to the beach. For McClure and Breen, it is of the utmost importance that their caftans be ethically made, meaning fare wages and hours, and a safe and pleasant work environment. Mirth donates 5 percent of profits to an education initiative in the block-printing village of Bagru, India, where many of their artisan partners are located. Even finding a beneficiary for the altruistic element of their brand was serendipitous. One of their partners in Bagru, fourth-generation block printer Deepak Chhipa, introduced them to the Naam Dev School of Bagru, which Chhipa founded with the goal of providing an enjoyable place for kids of all castes in the community. Attending school is not mandatory in Bagru, and many parents don't require their children to go, as it's more valuable to them for the children to learn the family business of block printing or agriculture. By creating a place that includes a daily meal, indoor plumbing and a safe and fun environment, children attend school because they want to go. One caftan results in one day of school — a big-hearted bonus to a beautiful purchase. Available March 15 at; end of month at Brooke Feather, 2020 W. Gray St., 713.520.0211, and Saint Cloud, 5217 Kelvin Dr., 713.522.0077. A series of serendipitous events while traveling prompted sisters Katie McClure and Erin McClure Breen to create the beautiful and benevolent Mirth Caftans. McClure, who majored in apparel and textiles at UT, was bitten by the travel bug as an adult and spent time in Switzerland and Singapore. But it was a solo journey of self- discovery to Bali for a yoga/Pilates retreat that sparked an idea: to create a business informed by a life of travel and slowing down, while creating something of lasting beauty and giving back. Inspired but unsure of the product or how to implement it, McClure shelved that spark for a few years. In the summer of 2014, Breen — a long-time caftan devotee — had just closed her early intervention clinic for autistic children and was looking for a new career path. McClure convinced her somewhat reluctant sibling to travel to India. Each stop along that journey and the people they met, many of whom specialized in textiles and block printing, drew them closer to discovering what their new venture should be. "India's thrilling mess of color, tastes and stunning landscapes, and the rich experiences with the people you meet, have the ability to change you," McClure says. There was something especially magical about the city of Jaipur. While on an elephant ride in the desert, after a fruitful day touring the city, the sisters realized that the product McClure couldn't conceptualize before was travel-friendly clothing, and the partner she needed was her sister — as well as all their new friends in India. Mirth Caftans was born. Of course, starting a business continents and oceans away is not easy. Initial setbacks included bad samples from the first trip, which led to further visits to India to find more appropriate partners. Each visit, they were led to someone else who could help them or a new discovery, encouraging them to persevere. Their efforts have resulted in chic, comfortable and unique caftans that they say are ideal for "long voyaging and slow living." Neutral colors and simple prints prevail, making for suitcase-ready pieces. Roughly BY ANNE LEE PHILLIPS. PHOTOGRAPHY KENDALL HANNA. Corfu caftan in Handmade Edition blockprint San Sebastian short caftan in Handmade Edition handloomed colorblock Katie McClure and Erin Breen OF Each caftan comes packaged in a reusable Potli Pouch.

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