Monday, January 6, 2014

Dallas Dweller: Jan Strimple

Dallas is full of colorful characters. There are those you see monthly in the society pages, whose stories are legendary in this town. But, this feature is inspired by the people that I think you should know more about because of their fabulous style, interesting back-story or amazing accomplishments.  Dallas Dweller seeks to introduce you to these fabulous faces.  Jan Strimple is an icon to the local fashion community. This former model turned events producer is the creative genius behind some of Dallas' biggest and most extravagant events. This beauty is not afraid to put her time, talent and face behind the causes she believes in.

Strimple, pictured at the SMITH II fashion show, is a huge proponent of emerging Dallas designers
(September 2013) photo ℅ Sukilynn Photography

Jan Strimple

photo: Facebook
Turning heads is something Jan Strimple is used to. With her flaming orange hair, stunning chiseled looks and willowy stature, Jan Stimple is a hard woman to ignore. "She is the consummate conversationalist," says FD Luxe, "A catwalking encyclopedia of fashion knowledge and, by simply entering the room, a divine scene-stealer." I completely concur.

By the time she was 13, Strimple stood 5' 10" so she joined a Teen board and started modeling. In 1975, at the age of 19, she and her new husband Dan drove out of their hometown of Kent, Ohio with $600 to their name in Strimple's orange Vega hatchback equipped with a one-wheel trailer that held their clothes, some pots and pans, basic grooming essentials, some linens and pillows to travel the country and figure out where they wanted to settle.

After a couple of years of roaming, they moved to San Antonio for Dan's first foray into the golf business. "At that time, Frost Bros was the Neiman Marcus of San Antonio," says Strimple. "I worked as the house model doing their trunk shows and formal shows. My last year with them I worked as their assistant couture buyer and opened their Houston stores."

Jan Strimple and her Vega, circa 1975
The couple moved to Dallas in 1980, thrusting her into a larger fashion scene and in the lap of the Kim Dawson Agency. Her first clients were the Lidgi family at Lou Lattimore, The Quist family in their apparel showroom and Leon Hall at The Dallas Apparel Mart. "Meeting the brilliant Bob Mackie at Lou Lattimore opened the global world of fashion to me," reminisces Strimple.

"After walking for Bob, Carolina Herrera, Mary McFadden, Bill Blass my first season in New York, I stepped off a plane in Paris and was booked by Yves St. Laurent, Dior, Lanvin and Givenchy for the Haute Couture season in Paris. My international career was born that year and it spanned the 80's and the first half of the 90's. Dan joined me at the tail end of many of my bookings so we could explore the world together.  Along the way I enjoyed gracing a few magazine covers, walked nearly every major runway in the world and had the honor of mannequins being made in my image. Needless to say, it's been great fun! "

Jan with a mannequin made in her image
photograph by THOM JACKSON/The Photo Division
Once Strimple stopped the global travel for work, she penned the Ask Jan column for the Dallas Morning News for five years and began producing many of our city's largest and most exacting runway fashion presentations.  Strimple says, "I continue to enjoy instructing Dallas's next generation of runway hopefuls for the four top agencies in town and mentoring many of the girls as their careers blossom."    

Dan and Jan (which is just so cute to say) just celebrated 39 years of marriage. A milestone achievement for any couple these days! "We never got around to starting a family, but fifteen years of intern assistants and mentoring young adults entering the fashion and golf fields have yielded wonderful relationships with dozens of smart young men and women," says Strimple, "We are very proud of their accomplishments, but we don't have to pay for the weddings or college educations. We may be smarter than we look… Ha ha ha!" 

Strimple often lends her time, talent - and face - for causes she believes in like the Faces of Life campaign for HIV/AIDS awareness. Photo by Jorge Rivas.


OSC:  When you need some "me" time to relax, where do you go or what do you do to relax and recharge? 

JS:   To relax locally, I escape into movies. Twice a year, Dan and I will do what we call The Strimple Film Fest where we rent all the movies we missed that season and at the same catch the current releases in theaters Escape allows my creativity to bubble to the surface. DMA visits are peaceful excursions that also get my mental gears churning. For true recharging we love areas like Half Moon Bay or anywhere I can do nothing but count waves as they crash onto a shoreline! 

Jan as Cleopatra
photo ℅ Jan Strimple
OSC:  What are your favorite Dallas restaurants? 

JS:   Toulouse for the simple and flavorful bistro meals like those I enjoyed while working in Paris. Abacus for consistent excellence in Haute Cuisine. Glorias for their amazing chicken soup and great margaritas! 

OSC:  What are your favorite Dallas stores to shop? 

JS:  Jimmy's Food Store, Dolly Python and Bergdorf Goodman online for Gareth Pugh and some of the more avant garde pieces in varied collections. 

OSC:  Do you have a nickname?

JS:  Sarah Blacketer of the Kim Dawson agency named me "The Walk Whisperer." It's fun and oft challenging to take 13, 14 and 15 year olds, put them in heels, and teach them a graceful and powerful walk. Some people doubt the difficulty of a models walk. I offer that both tight rope walkers and balance-beam gymnasts place one foot directly in front of the other when they move, but they do it with their arms extended and in ballet- type flats or no shoes. Models do it in 4" heels with their arms to their sides. There's nothing easy about it! 

OSC:  Tell me something about you that most people don't know.

JS:  I designed a golf putting green for our side yard that evokes some interesting reactions. Using images of Michaelangelo's female nudes and a commissioned Gary Mauro bas-relief that hangs in our dining room as inspiration, the owners at Southwest Greens created a green (for her husband) in the shape of a woman lying on her back. (There are those that say this putting green design is really the nude image of Strimple. Now THAT's a gift any man would enjoy!)

 (August 2012)  Dan and Jan Strimple at a friends wedding 

OSC:  What do you think makes Dallas such a great place to live, work and raise a family? 

JS:  Dallas is a city with a glowing future that hasn't forgotten it's past. Our leadership and our citizenry are consistently optimistic and supportive of entrepreneurial thinking. The weather is generally conducive to personable social exchanges and our thriving patio culture is the perfect example of it! I think Dallas welcomes success stories and eager attitudes and gives young people the opportunity to carve a niche for themselves in most fields. We collectively have the next generation's back! Dallas is like an attractive woman who gets more beautiful as she ages. She's one part Southern Lady with her grace and charming manners, and one part rodeo-riding cowgirl that'll grab a bull by the horns and hang tight! She's both proper and gritty. She's provocative and smart .. and friendly. She has endless attributes. No wonder the world's watching! 

To learn more, connect with Jan online at