Grand Opening of J. McLaughlin

Revered Bastion of Classic Americana Finds its Footing in River Oaks. Where else?

Seth Vaughan. Photography Fulton Davenport.  |  Photos by Fulton Davenport
October 31, 2013
Event Date:
September 25, 2013

I felt like I was back in Greenwich when I dropped in for J. McLaughlin's Houston launch at River Oaks Shopping Center. All the requisite ingredients were there: clinking cocktail glasses, conversational banter and natty clothes beloved by the Martha's Vineyard and Millbrook set. And, of course, what would a party be without some benevolence, which on this night was a percentage of sales benefitting Bo¹s Place, a remarkable organization that assists children dealing with loss. To say I was an immediate J. McLaughlin disciple is an understatement; as I see it, if a retailer stocks cashmere socks year-round, I'm a die-hard proponent. Such is to be expected, however, from a business whose stock-in-trade is the
tastes and predispositions of the Phillips Exeter set, which is to say shirting in stripes, checks and plaids, bow ties, argyles, cashmeres and tweeds — hallowed ground. Adding flair to the evening was the store's main salon, with its tromp l'oeil frescos by Larson and Paul Architects — rather reminiscent of Tony Duquette's infamous Dawnridge. Orchestrating the affair was store co-founder (and half of the brothers McLaughlin) Jay McLaughlin, with wife Joan. Unacquainted with the Houston heat, he was compelled to excuse himself midway through our conversation to remove his cashmere V-neck. I knew the party was a success — and the store properly christened — when a lady with a striking resemblance to Aunt Muffy spilled her chardonnay down my backside — which, of course, proved she was my Aunt Muffy. Socializing: Dena Prasher and Mary Beth Staine, the deaconesses of Bo's Place; the freshly engaged Meredith Riddle; Ben Rose in Nantucket Reds, with Laura Max Nelson on his arm; Longoria Collection's lady-in-waiting, Elizabeth Fertitta, with husband Zack Fertitta; budding beauty and tech mogul Kathleen Jennings; John Bebout in Stubbs slippers, as always; Caroline Starry LeBlanc, looking stunningly studious in eyeglasses; general manager of J. McLaughlin Jana Houston; Brett Stephenson; Travis Torrence; gem men Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black of Tenenbaum & Co. jewelers; Margo Geddie, who fell hard for the store's 77098 zip-code totes; Circa lighting's Jackie Connolly; Mary Lou Swift; Leslye and David Weaver; the Houston Zoo's Nick Espinosa; and Amy and David Doherty.