VELVET SLIPPER’S VIVIAN WISE ASPIRES TO BE THE HOUSTON FASHIONISTA’S MAIN SOURCE OF FIERCE FASHIONS.
Byline: Michele Meyer
Fluttering hearts. Weak knees. Obsession. That’s what Vivian Wise hopes to illicit in Houston’s wealthiest women. “We’ve got to inspire that visceral reaction in your gut, that ‘Oh my God I have to have that’ desire that makes your heart race and pulse rise,” said Wise, who last May opened Velvet Slipper, an accessories, clothing and shoe store in the exclusive Uptown Park Boulevard Shopping Center.
“We’re specifically for a woman who doesn’t need anything. What she wants is fabulous. She buys it simply because it makes her smile.”
Velvet Slipper’s fall offerings include supple leather jackets from Strenesse by Gabriele Strehle, funky distressed knee-length kilts and sweaters in orange, pink and other whimsical colors from Petro Zillia, witty blouson T-shirts from Velvet Tee’s and sexy thongs from Cosa Bella. The clothes are strategically grouped near the shoes and boots they suit.
“Clothes make it easier to sell the shoes because you can show what goes with what,” she says.
The store also sells accessories and footwear, including handbags by Temma Dahan and Isabella Fiori, belts by Cosabella and Tarina Tarantino, jewelry by Delilah, Elizabeth Showers and Shaesby Designs, shoes by Robert Clergerie, Jimmy Choo, Stephane Kelian, Dolce & Gabbana, Sigerson and Morrison and Giuseppe Zanotti.
Most shoes and boots range from $500 to $800 (with some as low as $90); handbags from $100 to $700; belts from $150 to $300; jewelry from $60 to $4,000, and clothes from $60 (a Velvet Tee T-shirt) to $3,000 (a Strenesse leather jacket).
“We’re mainly high-end, with some bridge and some low-end shoes, which tend to be the ones that are very kitschy,” she said. “You don’t want to buy a shoe with a shrimp on it at $300, you want to buy it at $100.”
Velvet Slipper’s homey decor includes a pale green velvet sofa, petal-shaped mohair stools and a Turkish rug beneath a huge crystal chandelier that once adorned Wise’s own living room.
Wise fell into the business by losing her heart to shoes. The original Velvet Slipper, then a 600-square-foot boutique in Boulder, Colo., was her favorite store. She bought it in 1996.
Her husband’s telecommunications job led her to move the store to Houston, her hometown, last spring.
Wise chose Uptown Park Boulevard because it attracts the store’s targeted demographic: women with an annual household income of at least $500,000.
To keep her customers satisfied, Wise shops the markets in New York, L.A., Las Vegas, Milan, London and Paris.