My Favorite Things by Hallie Vanderhider
The Social Book is proud to begin a series called “My Favorite Things,” where we ask prominent people in the community a list of questions to answer—to give us insight into their brilliance and to help us to know them better. Our friend Hallie Vanderhider is well known for her business acumen in the oil and gas and private equity industry. Hallie is equally engaged in the philanthropic community in Houston. But her greatest accomplishment is her amazing son, Michael.
Favorite Houston Restaurant: I would say BCN. Who doesn’t love starting a beautiful dining experience with a delicious drink beautifully offered in a glass with a flower nestled inside? The service is consistently excellent, the food divine and the venue provides opportunities for both private dining and people watching.
Favorite Gift You’ve Been Given: Of course, the favorite gift ever given was the gift of my children. If you mean a box you open, I would say a handbag that my son Michael selected himself from Tootsies. If you knew how much my son hates shopping, you would know that it was meaningful.
Favorite Meal: My favorite meal is any meal shared with the family and friends that I love—from a decadent chef’s tasting at Guy Savoy in Paris or a cheeseburger and fries at Tiny’s No. 5. It’s all amazing when I share it with the people I love. I also love to host an intimate dinner party in my home because I do enjoy cooking and entertaining, but again, it’s the company that makes the experience.
Favorite Retail Store: Of course, I am going to have Fady Armanious and Tootsie’s at the top of my list! But I also treasure my adventures with Chris Venegas and the fabulous Dior boutique (especially when we get to go to Paris together. Once we toured the Dior archives and I got to see some of the very first collection. I would have bought half of it. (Today the pieces are timeless.) And of course, I could never leave out Sylvia Forsythe and John Cruz with Saks. Oh, that trip to Cannes!
Favorite Designer: I could not possibly choose only one—and day vs. night. Some of my favorite gowns have been by Monique Lhuillier and Naeem Khan. While in Paris, I had the opportunity to meet the amazing Carolina Herrera (they have the best cappuccino in the world) and love the colors and freshness that Wes Gordon has brought to the collection and the showroom. Dior of course works day or night, and again, I so enjoyed meeting Maria Grazia and Victoire de Castellane, the creators of the masterpieces in couture and high jewelry. I could never forget Oscar De La Renta which is truly a staple in my wardrobe. And who doesn’t love to just roll up an Azzedine Alaia knit dress, throw it in the suitcase and it’s perfect when you put it on upon arrival at your destination. I also love when my dear friend Pamela Roland makes me something special from her personal collection.
Favorite Jewel: How could anyone narrow it down to one? Are you seeing a theme here? It’s hard to select just one of anything! I love all of the precious stones, but I suppose if I had to choose one, I would probably opt for Ruby since it is my birthstone. Oddly, I have almost nothing featuring rubies. Hmmmm! Perhaps there is an opportunity in this realization.
Favorite Event Attended: I would selfishly have to say the 2018 Ballet Ball, honoring the Company’s performance of Swan Lake, which I chaired. Richard Flowers outdid himself, creating a beautiful black and white escape. You would never know that you were in a tent (because we were recovering from Harvey and the Wortham was far from being open). It was a magnificent display of black and white flowers, feathered chandeliers and a mixture of gorgeous black and white tablescapes. Naaem Kahn created a beautiful black beaded and feathered dress for me, which was stunning. Even when the first set of 36,000 feathers got held up in customs, he was able to obtain another set and finish the dress, just in time for the gala. Even though so many were still struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey, we joined together like the strong city Houston is, to raise a record amount for the ballet, and have an amazing experience as well.
Favorite Thing in Your Home: I have a painting that was commissioned around a song that my son Matthew loved called Paint Me a Birmingham. The painting features me in a swing, my son Michael leaning up against a tree, and my son Matthew’s face is visible in the positioning of the clouds. It holds an incredibly special place in my heart. Not that it will ever be the subject of museums, but it is priceless to me.
Favorite Food or Dessert to Cook: Again, depends on the event. For entertaining or even an intimate dinner at home, probably Boeuf Bourguignon, for a group of family and friends just for fun, maybe lasagna, and if I am doing dessert, either a soufflé or carrot cake.
Favorite Flower: Peonies in white or pink are my favorite flower as I love the lacy petals but appreciate the substantial flower. They go with any other flower and are beautiful on their own or with a touch of greenery.
Favorite Travel Destination: If I want to relish in experiences of all forms of art, from fine art to food or haute couture, definitely Paris. If I want to relax with friends and family, a beautiful beach or lake setting is perfect for me. I’m definitely not ruling out the mountains, but unless I am actually skiing, I like to enjoy the snow from a window near a fireplace. Colorado in the summer is also pretty fantastic.
Favorite Quotation: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~ Abraham Lincoln. I think the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis was perhaps based on this quote. In her poem, the author notes that a person’s life is summed up on a tombstone by the year of birth and the year of death, separated by a dash. Life is all about the dash. I hope that at the end of my life, the dash will be filled with a lot of love, kindness, giving, accomplishments and learnings as well as some failures and heartbreaks … all of which make for a very full life.
Favorite Word of Advice to Pass Along to Others: Never stop learning as it empowers you, keeps you engaged and opens new opportunities to you at any age. My father taught me early in life that optionality is important and to have options, you have to have education. Learning is not simply in the academic sense, there are many life lessons that are presented to you that are far more valuable than what you can glean from a book. I am an avid reader so not discounting the value of academia or pleasure reading, but life lessons come to you often unexpectedly and it’s up to you what you take away from that.
Favorite Life Lesson Given to you that You Live by: Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so make the most of every day and every opportunity. Make sure the people you care about know they are loved. It is important to “pay it forward” as they say. Not everyone has been as fortunate and being a giving part of your community is not only an opportunity, but an obligation. Sometimes all you have to give is your ideas, but maybe at another point in your life you can offer time and resources, so do it. It’s ok to acknowledge that you have needs and desires, so don’t settle or compromise yourself for others.