One of the questions Gwen Smith, owner of Cruella’s, is often asked Why is,her name, Cruella’s?
“It was a nickname,” Smith said. “People started calling me that when I was in my 20s because of the way I drove. I’ve always had a way of doing things that’s all my own.”
The same can be said of the clothing and accessories she offers at her store at 2504 Ryan St. in Lake Charles.
“It’s definitely unique,” said Carolyn Garrett. “It’s comfortable. Many of the pieces are vintage-style, and it takes a woman with a certain self assurance to wear it.”
As if to prove her point, Garrett produced her purse and grinned. It looked like part of a cowboy boot attached to a foxtail.
“Who wants to look like everyone else,” chimed in Sandra Taveney.
“It’s feminine,” said Donna Duhon.
She came out of the dressing room in a DD Ranch velvet tunic with hand embroidery and beading. She looked bohemian-regal, oh-so-comfortable, coyly stylish and marginally western.
Cruella customers look for clothing that seems to be made with them in mind. Some items are one-of-a-kind.
“I shop here because it’s fun,” said Jeanie Siebarth. “And we love Gwen. “I guess you could call us the Cruella Ya Ya Sisters,” she said about the group of ladies in the store trying on clothing from a shipment Smith had just started putting out.
Siebarth paired boots, lace, linen, cotton gauze and a long American Indian influenced necklace.
“That’s Old Magnolia, Heart’s Desire and Old Gringo,” Smith called out from behind the register. “We call that the Western Victorian Boho look.”
Cruella’s specializes in one-of-kind clothing, boutique and special brands not found at other stores. Yet, customers find that their selections – regardless of the brand or season – all seem to complement past Cruella purchases. The quality is top notch. The clothing doesn’t go out of style. And linen is always the right fabric to wear in Southwest Louisiana, regardless of the season.
“Customers often ask, Can I wear this with that? And they’ll hold up a couple of things,” Smith said. “We love hearing what they think or asking what we think. We want them to know the clothing they get from Cruella’s is the best expression of their own unique style.”
Cruella’s carries brands that have been described as timeless, sexy, free-flowing, traditional, funky, sophisticated and adaptive. Fabrics are natural. Some are antique or vintage.
Gwen Smith started out by opening an upscale consignment shop known as Rethreads.
“I had a small section of new clothing,” Smith said. After 17 years, I decided to go to all new clothing and changed the name of the store to Cruella’s Rethreads. Now it’s just Cruella’s.”
Women can shop local and not look like any other woman – when they shop at Cruella’s. Drop in to see what’s new for fall and to put together a look that is the best expression of your personal style.