Ort Varona’s newest store looks to score at Victory.
by Stephanie Quadri
Ort Varona may have started out with a career in counseling, but retail is his therapy. The psychology major turned entrepreneur thought Dallas lacked a store that catered to urban-chic adults, so he created Premium 93 and Octane, two of the hottest stores in the West Village. “We didn’t have a place to shop, so we created one,” Varona says.
But the 34-year-old is a little restless, so he’s expanding his arsenal of stores with the Lift Fashion Terminal in the Victory development, which will open in the spring of 2006. Located in the area around the American Airlines Center, Victory is backed by Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood and Tom Hicks’ Southwest Sports Realty and is well on its way to being one of the most significant urban developments in the country. Victory will boast a W Hotel, big-name restaurants and clubs such as Nine and Ghost Bar, extravagant residences, a public promenade, and other amenities.
Varona teamed up with investors such as Hillwood’s Jonas Woods to create a 20,000-square-foot “not-quite-boutique, not-quite-department-store” destination that will house some of the most sought-after designer merchandise in the world. Some of the names you can expect to see include Ted Baker, J.Lindeberg, Chip & Pepper, and—dare we say?—Prada. Lift will also have one of the best denim collections in town and will make custom jeans on-site. Mix that with airport design circa 1960s with German- and Japanese-influenced styles, personal appearances by designers, a cocktail lounge, and even an on-site fashion photographer, and you get a sense of Varona’s ambitions.
Could this be the next Barneys New York or LA’s Fred Segal? “It won’t be a cookie-cutter store; it’s a fresh look on retail,” he says. “Dallas is so forward and more willing to take risks than other cities, including Los Angeles or New York. We are the consumers for the next 40 years; our parents are over.”