Dallas, Mr. Stanley, cows in pearls: Coco Chanel's long affair with Texas


When, on December 10, the house of Chanel wows Dallas with one of its most over-the-top (and globally seen) runway shows of the year, it will be a full-circle moment: The city, it seems, has been loco for Coco for longer than you may know

edited by ROB BRINKLEY

photographs courtesy DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, Stanley Marcus Papers


From The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, August 18, 1957:

Chanel Named N-M Awardee for 1957

Chanel — a legend in her own time — will receive the 1957 Neiman-Marcus Fashion Award.

She will fly from Paris to Dallas — her first trip to Texas and her first to America in six years — to receive her gold plaque during the 20th-annual Neiman-Marcus Fashion Exposition, Sept. 9 and 10, at the Statler Hilton Hotel.

On Monday night, Sept. 9, [a fashion]show will be followed by a gala anniversary ball, and on the following day a luncheon showing will be held with Mademoiselle Chanel as guest of honor.

The citation to Chanel, recognizing a “rebel who revolutionized women’s fashion,” reads in part:

“To the great innovator who emancipated the feminine silhouette … who elevated the status of costume jewelry to a position of fashionable respectability, who was the first to bring perfume from the chemist’s shop to the couturier’s boutique, who was never afraid of being copied, whose past accomplishments have had a tremendous influence on present fashions …”

The choice of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel underlines the lifelong influence she has had on fashion and dramatizes her return to the design world in 1954 after a 15-year lapse.

When she retired, she did not give up her perfume business, which continues to flourish. She made her return to fashion, not out of need, but because of her limitless energy, and her influence was still important in 1954.

In her work Chanel neither sews nor sketches, but takes fabric and drapes it on a live model.

She may be the only designer in the world who enjoys being copied. For her, being copied is an honor — “Fashion must go down to the street,” she has always maintained.

From the book Sleeping with the Enemy, Coco Chanel’s Secret War, by Hal Vaughan:

“[Chanel] wanted to visit a Texas ranch. A visit to [Stanley] Marcus’ brother’s Black Mark Farm [in Flower Mound]was arranged along with a ranch-style dinner and a show of bronco riding and roping. Alas, it turned out that Chanel didn’t like the taste of western food, so she dumped her plate of barbecued meat and beans under the table and right onto the elegant satin slippers of another guest, Elizabeth Arden, seated next to her …”

From D magazine, October 1976, by Jerrie Smith, Stanley Marcus’ daughter:

Neiman’s had a sense of humor, too. In 1957, when it was celebrating its 50th anniversary and honoring Chanel, N-M staged a fashion showat Eddie Marcus’ Black Mark Farm. The models were elegant, tranquilized Black Angus heifers, and such styles as the “fur on fur on fur” and the “mid-calf look” were introduced. Chanel’s look, too, was parodied when a lovely, long-legged cow was led out of the barn wearing only ropes and ropes of pearls.

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