You’re never going to believe this. Mere weeks ago, Giorgio Armani made the declaration every chic native has longed to hear: “Fashion has arrived in Dallas.” Come again? The city may be the state’s most stylish (two words: Neiman Marcus), but it’s still a distant cousin to the four runway capitals of New York, Paris, London, and Milan. Turns out the Italian couture demigod is on to something. This month a swarm of designer activity descends upon Big D for Fashion at the Park, our very own four-day “fashion week,” complete with top models, air-kissing socialites, and frocks that cost more than your house.
Now, this isn’t the inaugural FATP, but when it debuted in March, it was hard to imagine it could be more than a blip on the social calendar. (Can you blame us? There are as many posh happenings in Dallas as there are shoes in Imelda Marcos’s closet.) The second installment proves otherwise. Put on by NorthPark Center, the Nasher family’s swanky übermall, the festivities take place inside an 18,000-square-foot white tent erected for the occasion. (It’ll be in the parking lot between Nordstrom and Macy’s. You won’t miss it.) And compared with those other fashion weeks, FATP is a more egalitarian affair, open to anyone willing to fork over $25 to $100 per event. Though there won’t be nearly as many shows—merely nineteen versus, say, NYC’s dozens—the designer collections coming down the U-shaped runway will be only the crème de la crème.
As for whose confections you’ll be drooling over? Prepare for a dizzying onslaught: Industry luminaries Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, and new Dallas cheerleader Armani will present their latest ready-to-wear creations, while NorthPark anchors Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Nordstrom will send out looks from the numerous lines they carry. Then there are the special appearances: Isabel Toledo, the creative director of Anne Klein, will share her sartorial vision (you can see se-lections from the label’s spring 2008 collection at the Barneys New York show); Billy Reid, a designer with Southern sensibilities (he’s from Louisiana), will discuss his men’s and women’s fall collections; and at the invite-only finale gala, socialite-turned-designer Tory Burch will display her trademark patterned tunics. Even the fashion bible, Vogue, is sending an ambassador: European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles will sign copies of his book Vogue Living and dish on what Anna Wintour is really like (we wish).
Do not, of course, get too swept away by the tulle. Is this just another excuse for Dallas’s beautiful people to mix and mingle and show off their Manolos? Yes. Is it an ingenious marketing ploy? You bet. But after the success of the first FATP—several of the events were sold out—the international style cognoscenti are beginning to give Dallas, and the state, more than a cursory once-over. Besides, there are other reasons for jaded outsiders to look our way, like Denton’s Texas Fashion Collection (which organized the much hailed Balenciaga exhibit earlier this year) and our growing list of talented exports (Tom Ford, Lela Rose, Tracy Feith). So suspend your disbelief that Texas can replicate the haute sensibilities of fashion’s Big Four. As any style icon knows, exposure is everything. Nov 1–4. 8687 N. Central Expy, 214-363-7441, northparkcenter.com/fatp Jordan Breal