March 30, 2016
River Oaks District offers world-class shopping experience
The corner of Hermès, Cartier and Dior is a good place to start. It's convenient both to the valet parking stands and the center entrance of the multi-story garage, which offers both free parking and murals to view on inside walls.
Whether their closets already are filled with designer labels or not, fine merchandise and an exceptional experience await the serious shopper and creatively curious alike at the River Oaks District, developed by San Diego-based firm OliverMcMillian. The destination is billed as an "open-air, shopping, dining and entertainment haven," with 95 new shopping and dining options as well as an elegant new home - or additional home - to high-end boutique favorites.
Proximity to Loop 610, U.S. 59 and the Westpark Tollway allows for easy access from most areas, and parking is abundant, with valet - and the district really has upped its valet game.
"The River Oaks District is on 14 acres, with ... three options for parking," said Colin Moussa, director of marketing for the River Oaks District. Options include a garage with 1,300 free spaces, metered parking in front of stores for those wanting to run in and out quickly, and valet. "If you have a number of bags and wish to continue shopping, shoppers can text the valet and they will either come pick your bags up and place them in your car or bring your car around for you to place your bags in the car and then they will re-park your car. You can park your car at one valet stand and pick your car up at another stand with a text message to the valet."
With the circling of the outdoor fans under shaded promenades, landscaping and occasional benches, shopping is designed to be elegant and easy for visitors. Upon entering the two-story Hermès store, visitors see offerings that are given plenty of light-filled space, and neutral decor tones are only slightly splashed with bold tones of silk scarves and small bottles of fragrance. Each display area highlights a limited number of items, including men's clothing and leather goods.
A few steps down the street is an array, from shifts and sandals to evening wear by designer Stella McCartney, and nearby shops offer more options for clothing and shoes. A two-story structure covering most of a block is still under construction, so jewelry-seekers will have to wait a little longer for the arrival of Harry Winston - the jeweler whose founder donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.
Need to go skiing in August? Many Texans take at least one ski trip or excursion to the mountains each year, so there are at least two shops exclusively offering designer winter wear to obtain the best look for the snow. Another boutique caters strictly to seersucker and surf shorts.
Names on many of the doors may read like a red carpet who's who of fashion design, but the atmosphere is not intimidating, but vibrant and welcoming. Families with strollers as well as fashionistas wander easily between stores.
At L'Occitane, manager Amy Cormier invited browsers to step up to an elongated farm sink with individual foot controls in the center of the store for a complimentary hand massage with the French beauty company's signature shea butter. She never imagined she would leave graphic design to work in retail, she said, but her enthusiasm for the new location is abundant.
"It's a beautiful place to be," she said.
Those curious can go online to RiverOaksDistrict.com. The district is not the developer's first project. San Diego-based OliverMcMillan has made its mark in several U.S. cities with artistic, city street-orientated mixed-use destinations.
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