Do you ever wish you could live a totally lavish life for just one night? Let’s just call River Oaks District my fairy godmother. Last week, I was invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of Houston’s chic shopping and dining destination. Aside from a great spot for food and window shopping, there is so much more to River Oaks District than meets even the most discerning eye. While we were there, I had a chance to pop into retailers that I’d always been a little too shy to step into and learned so much in the process.
Come for the Movie, but Stay for the Drinks at iPic
From left to right: Kara Smith of Common Polished, Chiara Casiraghi of Casiraghi Style, ME, Dede Raad of Dress Up Buttercup, Jennifer Riviera with River Oaks District, Megan Silanoff of Mad Meg Creative, Nicole Kestenbaum of Lipstick & Brunch, Carrie Colbert of CarrieColbert.com, Candace Thomas of Luxe With Kids, Cristina Mandujano of Mad Meg Creative, Madison Payne of MadisonRPayne.com, Lauren Smith-Rando of Life to Lauren.
One thing you should know about me is that I LOVE iPic Theaters. I will even go on a limb to say they make my relationship better. Whenever Brian wants to see an action or sci-fi movie I could care less about, I suggest we make it a date at iPic. While he watches whatever alien spacecraft is bound to doom America, I sip on a glass of wine and cuddle up comfortably in the reclining chair in our private little pod. It’s all about compromise, right? While we were visiting iPic last week, we got to taste one of the amazing concentrated gins at The Tuck Room. The Tuck Room is just what it sounds like, a “tucked away” spot that carries the ambiance of a big city speakeasy. From the artsy book wall decor to murals by Peter Tunney (an artist that typically boasts a HUGE line at his Wynwood Walls alcove), the Tuck Room is a little getaway that feels disconnected to the outside bustle of Houston.
You Can Shop Award-winning Fragrances at Tom Ford
Tom Ford is more than just a lyric in a Jay-Z song. The fashion designer and filmmaker, known for elegant fashion, has quite the menagerie of fragrances. From crisp walls of killer heels to elongating mirrors imploring you to take the perfect selfie, the Tom Ford boutique at River Oaks District is luxury at its finest. While we all can’t easily drop down our Amex and waltz out with bags of attire straight off the runway, Tom Ford’s beauty line is an attainable splurge that’s hard to ignore. From the moment you walk into the boutique, you can practically waft sandalwood and neroli. While the high-quality makeup is gorgeous to try-on, Tom Ford hails supreme in the fragrance department. Signature scents like Black Orchid and White Patchouli stand out, but the true winner is “F*cking Fabulous.” In fact, the scent won first place as The Fragrance Foundation’s best scent in Women’s Luxury. Side note: It also makes for a GREAT selfie prop.
Rings Worth MILLIONS are Just Beyond the Foyer of Harry Winston
After leaving our behind-the-scenes visit at Harry Winston, I texted my friend to tell her one thing: I felt like a Crazy, Rich, Non-Asian for the night. I saw the film back in July thanks to my friends at Warner Brothers; the ENTIRE time I watched the movie unfold, I couldn’t get over the opulent jewelry the character Astrid would buy in one sitting. Getting the star treatment at Harry Winston made me feel like I was living the life of some chic, elegant celebrity. (Spoiler Alert: I was SO there for it.) The gregarious staff at Harry Winston was so incredible and informative, too! We tried on rings that were 17 carats in weight, all of which featured colorless diamonds (the highest diamond grade) and pristine cuts that made the rings scintillate. My favorite was a 17-carat pear-shaped ring that went for more than $5 million. If you’re reading this, feel free to send the link to my boyfriend of five years and give him a hint, OK?
You Can Hire Your Own Personal Shopper at The Studio
I love owning a blog, but one of my least favorite elements of this site is the massive amount of coordination it requires to put outfits together. While I can tell the difference between two cerulean belts (channeling my Miranda Priestly vibes), I’d be lying if I said that I always had impeccable intuition on what styles will be trending in the season (apologies to all of my fashion editors). That’s where River Oaks District’s The Studio comes in. The Studio, a luxury lounge for customers to receive personal styling services, opened last fall at a spot close to iPic. Personal shopper Stevie Bingham is ready to come to the rescue with outfit ideas for any occasion that clients can choose from on the spot. Aside from stunning fall pieces on display, we got to cheers with champagne and learn the scoop on Stevie’s styling process.
If you’re like me and you go a little stir crazy when sitting in a dressing room for too long, an expert’s opinion can be a godsend. And if you can’t come in-person, your stylist can send you snapshots of the looks she has in mind. Last but not least, it’s complimentary! Do we even need another reason to get dressed up?
Le Colonial’s Holds the Key to the Best Happy Hour
By the time our group made it to Le Colonial, I can say we all had a lot of champagne flowing through our system. (The Mad Meg Creative team DOES know how to spoil us.) Despite my bubbly buzz, I was really impressed as we walked the staircase up to Le Colonial’s cocktail lounge. I’ve heard fantastic things but had never actually been to Le Colonial. I have only passed the restaurant as an onlooker while I walk to my Equinox class literally dreaming of the food I see on their Instagram page while I reluctantly prepare for leg day. The tropical decor was so gorgeous and made me feel like I was at some “too cool” restaurant in LA where I’d run into Emma Stone or, like, a former Bachelor star. I’m not kidding about the celebrity appeal. While I missed Oprah at River Oaks District, the center is making Houston the next Rodeo Drive.
I totally broke my diet by biting into desserts that proved to be worth it (did you even have to ask?). The drinks also stood out to me, which led me to search for Le Colonial’s happy hour menu for future outings. What sets this happy hour apart from other Houston spots? It’s THREE hours long from 5-8 p.m., and it goes on every day! You can enjoy live music, half priced wines by the glass, Asian-influenced bar bites and discounted draft, bottle beers and unique cocktails. Cheers to that!
Mark Your Calendars
A special thank you to Mad Meg Creative and River Oaks District for inviting me to this outstanding experience. I left feeling so grateful to be part of Houston’s close-knit blogger community and to have the opportunity to see how such a prominent retail center works. Seven years ago, I was literally slinging and stuffing teddy bears for a living as a manager at Build-a-Bear Workshop while in college, and NOW I get to try the most exciting array of experiences and write about it! What a time to be alive.
I’ll be back at River Oaks District TWICE in the next two months. I’ll be hosting an event at Le Colonial that I can’t wait to share with you later this week, and I’ll undoubtedly be taking in the fashions at Fashion x Houston on October 4. See designers like Alice + Olivia and Stella McCartney make their Houston runway debut and learn more here.
Have a great rest of your day, friends!
Photos by Maritere Rice Photography