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DALLAS — Narciso Rodriguez got star treatment when he presented his spring collection here in his first runway show outside of New York.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

His hosts, retailers Brian Bolke and Bill Mackin of Forty Five Ten, threw a benefit bash Oct. 27 in an eye-popping 1962 home by Philip Johnson that drew this city’s chicest party hoppers and celebrities. They came to watch Rodriguez’s spring collection modeled on a dramatic stage: a cream-carpeted swirling double staircase backed by a wall of curved glass, with a series of tall white arches visible beyond. Each look was finished with a seven-to-12 carat diamond ring, courtesy of Bachendorf’s jeweler and A Diamond Is Forever, the marketing arm of the Diamond Trading Co.

“To see my dresses come down that staircase — I was honored,” said the designer, whose post-show bow was so brief that photographers couldn’t even snap his picture before he vanished back up the stairs.

Rodriguez, whose minimalist styles have been applauded in the press and won him the CFDA Women’s Wear Designer of the Year in June, said he makes few personal appearances. But he was motivated to make his first trip to Dallas to help raise funds for the Dallas Child and Family Guidance Center, which provides counseling to families who have suffered abuse.

“I try to do as much as I can for children’s charities, so I seized the moment because it was for a very good cause,” he explained. “To have this opportunity to do this with Forty Five Ten, which is one of the chicest stores in the world, is a great pleasure. It is absolutely fantastic to be able to put on an event in such a landmark treasure.”

The glamorous group of 200-plus wore new and vintage designer togs and lots of gold filigree earrings, but it was the house that had everyone talking. Built in 1962 by construction magnate Henry Beck, it stands vacant with its original decor entirely intact, as new owners Naomi and Larry Lebowitz prepare a rehabilitation guided by local designer Mil Bodron. The crowd marveled over the endless white arches that surround the building and, inside, its butter lacquer-paneled walls straight-edged in gold leaf, the pale blue kitchen, a tall, bubbling courtyard fountain visible from both the ground and second floors and the skylight-topped central forum where the show was held.

Guests included actresses Sheree Wilson, Janine Turner, and Oxana Fedorova of “The Sopranos.” TV therapist Dr. Phil McGraw and his wife, Robin, were honorary chairmen, and there were plenty of fashion fans with deep pockets, like Allen and Kelli Questrom, Brooke and Frank Aldridge, Angie and Bill Barrett, Erin and Al Hill, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and Deedie and Rusty Rose.

Allen Questrom, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney, praised the collection and cited the inside-out seaming.

Guests sampled sushi and small bites prepared by Abacus, one of the city’s top restaurants, and heard a short performance by emerging artist Sasha Lazard, who sang dreamy operatic vocals accompanied by a five-piece band. Decorations were a team effort by Antony Todd from New York and Todd Fiscus of Two Design Group here and Bolke, who went for an all-white look. Gardenias and white candles floated in three-tiered clear Lucite tower centerpieces, white orchids abounded and white ottomans provided seating.

The next day, Rodriguez was at Forty Five Ten for most of the day, greeting customers and helping to rack up about $95,000 in orders for his spring styles — plus doing a bit of shopping himself.

The luxury emporium carries home furnishings and bath products, as well as clothing, shoes and accessories.

“A lot of people saw the show last night and came with their list in hand. Some people bought six things,” Bolke said. “We really have a customer who appreciates his aesthetic. We’ve developed a customer who loves Narciso, the fit and that the clothes don’t go out of style. They are investing in beautiful clothes and because he doesn’t change his vision dramatically, but it evolves, they feel that what they own is still relevant.”

“It helps to get on the playing field and see what’s going on,” Rodriguez commented. “It’s important for a designer to meet his customers. You learn a great deal and have to be conscious of who the women are that you dress. It helps, and it’s also very inspiring. I’ve seen very many chic women here — a lot with great grace, style and dignity.”

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