Fashion / Style File

Sexy on the Scene

La Perla Comes to Houston

BY // 06.12.15

Bulgari has a sexy new neighbor at the Galleria. Sixty-one-year-old Italian lingerie couturier La Perla recently set up shop in Houston, with help from Italian architect Robert Baciocchi, who has created a lush concept store for key cities — including Houston. North American CEO Suzy Biszantz is renovating several of La Perla’s U.S boutiques, with other openings planned this year in an attempt to expand and strengthen the brand’s retail footprint. “La Perla’s flagship boutiques are located at the heart of the most important fashion centers of the world, so the Galleria was a logical fit,” she says. “The location within the mall is clearly within the right mix of luxury brands.” Indeed. With international couture powerhouse Chanel upping the ante via a massive renovation and expansion nearby, La Perla will be in good company — a strategic move on Biszantz’s part. “We wanted to come in sooner, but nothing was available where we wanted to be,” she says. “There is no specific demographic for our customer … It is more about a certain lifestyle. An appreciation for luxury.”

The store is a treasure unto itself. Its opulent marble facade and floors, reminiscent of an Italian villa, are unique to this storefront, as is most of the decor. (Certain details, however, such as the daffodil appointments, translate to other La Perla venues for continuity.) Merchandise is showcased on velvet-lined trays in Lucite cases. The company has clearly made an investment in this market — and in its customer’s loyalty to the brand.

Best known for luxe lingerie, La Perla has pushed the boundaries of inner wear in recent years to include beachwear, nightwear, apparel, accessories, even a men’s line. After its acquisition in 2013 by Pacific Global Management (parent company of Elite models), creative director Emiliano Rinaldi turned heads in more ways than one when he presented the La Perla Atelier couture collection during Paris Couture Fashion Week in January. Top-drawer fashion models Lindsey Wixon and Naomi Campbell walked the show in provocative pieces to favorable reviews, setting a new course for the company and proving that La Perla is about more than push-up bras and pretty panties. In her own words, Biszantz’s vision is to “give their customer options in other categories at relative pricepoints, thus migrating into a true lifestyle brand.” The range of products at the new store is a testament to that. The footwear is a collaboration with heralded designer Giuseppe Zanotti; eyewear is soon to follow. The appropriately named “Inside Out” day-to-night collection on display features inventive layering options, by way of pretty corsets and body suits under silk-crepe separates.

It’s well worth a trip to the Galleria to avoid what might previously have been an apprehensive Internet purchase. I myself did not leave disappointed. There’s a reason La Perla customers are so loyal. As the expression goes, you get what you pay for.

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