Susie Q., Mystery Shopper

Susie Q. (not her real name) has been reviewing hotels, restaurants, and retailers anonymously for about six years. She works for several market research companies, such as Sinclair Customer Metrics, to whom she reports her findings after posing as an everyday customer and testing out products and services. She has lived in San Antonio for more than 25 years.

Coiffing Socialites

NAME: Cerón | AGE: 45 | HOMETOWN: Houston | QUALIFICATIONS: Equally good with scissors and sweet talk / Owner and artistic director of Cerón Salon, whose clients include Phoebe Tudor, Holly Moore, and Diane Lokey Farb, among others / Has “done” Paris Hilton, Cindy Crawford, Lauren Hutton, Lisa Rinna, and Ivana Trump

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Some people wouldn’t be caught dead in a Salvation Army. (As a woman I know recently put it, “Don’t you wonder whose dress you’re wearing?) Others consider thrift shopping a way of life. I’m in the latter camp. Why do I love to thrift? It boils down to the thrilling possibility of finding something really, really great for really, really cheap. Buying second-hand means you can wear interesting clothes that are unique to you, without breaking the bank.

Todd Oldham

Evan Smith: This is an issue all about style, which is not just fashion or just design—it’s those things and more. When you think about style definitionally, what do you put in that bucket?

Neal Shudde, Hatter

Shudde, a fourth-generation hatter, was born and raised in Houston. He runs Shudde Bros. Hatters, near Brookshire, which has been making hats since 1907.

To be a good hatter, you have to listen to the customer. Be patient and let him or her tell you what they need to tell you. Sometimes they’ll give you a lot of information that’s irrelevant, like, “I was in my house sweeping and my hat fell off my head and into the ketchup and the cat ran out the door and …” Just listen and keep asking questions.

Meet Jane

I have too many clothes,” says seventeen-year-old Jane Aldridge as she examines a black Comme des Garçons dress that looks like a spacesuit for a bombshell from an old sci-fi movie (think broad shoulders and narrow waist covered in lustrous, slightly puffy hexagons). That’s quite an admission for a teenager. Especially one that has a closet full of vintage designer clothes, describes one outfit as “too boring to wear even to driver’s ed,” and claims Karl Lagerfeld as her father.

Pillow Talk

Well-dressed women—and a sprinkling of men—surveyed the latest inventory of needlepoint pillows: whimsical landscapes, animals, nudes, and more. It seemed that almost every inch of shelving and couch space was littered with pillows, beautiful pillows. As the guests mingled, nibbled on hors d’oeuvres, and sipped on wine, Kate Hersch—arts patron, mother of two, community volunteer, and tastemaker extraordinaire—worked the room. Literally.

By Design

At first glance, Zoltan David’s jewelry store in the Hill Country Galleria, just outside Austin near Lakeway, is reminiscent of Bulgari: gleaming glass cases display millions of dollars worth of diamonds and platinum beneath Fortuny chandeliers and high barrel ceilings. But the massive ottoman upholstered in steer hide that sits in the middle of the gallery reminds us that we’re in Texas. “I could easily work in New York, Paris, or London,” says David, who was born in Hungary and immigrated to Vancouver when he was six.

No Ordinary Girl

It’s not just about the dress. Or the shoes, or the jewelry, purse, or makeup. It’s more than prom, says Kim Peters, founder of the Prom Shop Project. She wants to show girls that despite the fact that they can’t afford a brand-new formal gown, they can still go to college. Peters grew up on the East Side of San Antonio, next door to a housing project. “It wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots. I was raised in a loving supportive home, but right outside our door, it was nutty,” she explains.

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