Fashionista’s Home Reflects Her Bold Personal Style
By Steve Bennett
Photography by Al Rendon
Dismantle the word lifestyle into its two basic components, and you have a pretty good impression of Xitlalt Herrera. For Herrera, Life = Style and Style = Life.
Tall and svelte, with long jet-black hair and striking hazel eyes, 42-year-old Herrera has been a fashion wave-maker in San Antonio for two decades, first as an executive with Neiman-Marcus and, since the pandemic and a divorce, as the founder of X Level Inc., a talent and creative services agency focused on the entertainment and fashion industries.
Here’s a woman who proudly displays photos in her home of herself with Jeff Koons and Annie Leibovitz, as well as a photo of herself as a toddler, building a snowman in her hometown of Odessa, wearing Jackie O sunglasses and a leopard print coat.
Herrera’s home is a reflection of her magnetic personality and individual style, which she characterizes as “elegance with flair.”
“She is so open, never puts up any walls with people,” said her friend, fashion writer Michael Quintanilla. “And that’s the way I think of her house, open and welcoming. It’s so eclectic — a touch of Mexico, a bit of Paris and New York, a bit of Zen, a bit of Morocco and Asia. Every room you step into is like another world. And you think, where did she find this? Everything has a story. Everything offers a way of starting a new conversation.
“I also think of her house in terms of fashion. It’s layered. You know, when you put on an outfit, you select accessories and layers to create a unique look and feel. That how Xitlalt’s house is — it’s accessorized!”
Built in 1980, the house is a vintage contemporary, tan brick two-story with a metal roof and a Zen entry courtyard in Elm Creek, San Antonio’s first gated community.
It has four bedrooms over 4,600 square feet on a half-acre lot. Huge windows. Three — count ’em — living areas. Ceramic tile and parquet flooring. A time-capsule kitchen with an ancient JennAir stovetop grill.
“It is all original,” said Herrera, whose first name is Nahuatl, pronounced Seek-Lalique and refers to an Aztec goddess of the north star, or maybe the moon. “Other than painting walls, I haven’t remodeled. I love it! The kitchen is the best! When I walked in here, I just knew this was the house. It’s like we were predestined. I wanted a treehouse, and you look out the windows, and all you see is trees. I searched for years for the right dining table, one with a single plank of wood so I could bring a tree inside. I love entertaining, having people over, and I always keep my table set. I love art and wanted gallery walls.”
Herrera is a great believer in supporting San Antonio artists and art organizations such as Blue Star Contemporary and Artpace. Her collection includes works by the late Chuck Ramirez, Wendy Bowman, Rex Hausmann, Jesse Treviño, Franco Mondini Ruiz, Kelly O’Connor, James Hetherington, and Jennifer Crowder. She has a huge, eye-popping, pop-art portrait of Frida Kahlo by Analy Diego in the main hallway; not surprisingly, Frida shows up all over the house.
“Art speaks to my soul,” she said without a trace of irony. “Living with art, music, fashion — it all speaks to our story. It’s also a lot of fun. I love to go to art openings, to meet artists, and to buy their work.”
The furniture is eclectic, ranging from a lacquered Japanese sideboard to a wicker cube coffee table (with matching cubular wicker stools). Accessories range from a chrome tea cart, loaded with other artworks, knickknacks, and conversation pieces, to a grand piano to a lavender doggie chaise lounge.
Not surprisingly, a lot of the furniture — chairs and sofas and end tables and such — came from Neiman-Marcus and its Horchow subsidiary. Surprisingly, the house is anything but cluttered. It feels curated.
“I would describe my sense of style as elegance with flair,” she said. “I love living boldly. We’re given one life to live, and we should make a bold statement. At the same time, I love classical grace and refinement. People say my taste is all over the place, but to me, it’s a well-selected testimonial. I just know that when someone leaves my house, I want them to feel as if they’ve had fun, as well as being nurtured and cared for.”
A native Texan, Steve Bennett has written about art, architecture and books for more than 30 years, working for the San Antonio Light, Express-News and Austin American-Statesman. Currently a freelance writer and editor, Steve makes a mean dish of green enchiladas and believes there aren’t many better things in life than the drawings of Vincent Valdez and the Berlin noir detective novels of Philip Kerr.