Shelly Musselman, co-founder of the Forty Five Ten boutique in Dallas, died Tuesday morning at University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. She never regained consciousness after suffering a brain aneurysm while skiing in Aspen Sunday, according to a statement by her son, Matt. She was 59.
This story first appeared in the January 19, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With her mane of silver hair and talent for mixing designers like Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela and Yohji Yamamoto, Musselman exuded inimitable style. She and business partner Brian Bolke supported many emerging fashion and jewelry designers and created a luxury emporium with a distinctive point of view.
“It’s tough,” Bolke said. “Today has been overwhelming in that there has been an incredible outpouring, and you realize how much people loved her. We were in New York the previous week and we had a blast, and she was having a blast in Aspen with their best college friends. If you’re going to go and it’s painless and at a high point, I find a lot of comfort in that.”
Designers, retailers and others praised Musselman’s style, passion and joie de vivre.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of our extraordinary friend, Shelly Musselman,” said Narciso Rodriguez. “Her unique vision, her love of fashion and her love of life were truly inspiring.”
Michelle Stein, president of Aeffe USA Inc., said she was devastated by Musselman’s passing.
“She was one of the unique individuals in our industry who make it all worthwhile,” Stein said. “She was quite simply a divine person, passionate about life and with a profoundly positive and uplifting outlook on fashion and our industry. She approached it with a passion that is so rare these days, and she conveyed this passion to her friends, who were ultimately her clients. It was a joyous cycle — as it should be.”
“She had a glorious taste level,” said Hal Rubenstein, fashion director at InStyle magazine, calling Forty Five Ten one of his favorite stores in the country. “To me, Shelly epitomized the way a woman should mature — her energy, her drive, her focus, her acceptance and embracing of the aging process.”
“Her beauty, elegance and chic were only rivaled by her kindness, quick wit, generous spirit and endearing smile,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus.
Peter Som praised Musselman’s grace, passion and humor, saying, “She made you happy just to be with her,” while Derek Lam called her one of the industry’s “great inspirations.”
“Shelly was the woman you wanted to design for,” said jeweler Kimberly McDonald. “She lit up the room with her presence, was effortlessly chic, and valued quality and individuality in design — and in people.”
Born in Houston and educated at the University of Texas, Musselman worked as a runway and print model for many years with Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas, Bolke said. They opened the store in 2000 with Bill Mackin, whom they later bought out.
Musselman is survived by her husband, Jimmy; children Jace, Meredith, Matt and Will; father Edward Clarac; brothers Edward and Peter Clarac, and sister Meredith Clarac. Her daughter-in-law, Lauren Musselman, has worked at the store for about five years, and her daughter Meredith has also worked there periodically, Bolke said.
The family is planning a wake Saturday at home in Dallas and a private burial Sunday at their ranch in Albany, Texas, Bolke said. He anticipates there will be memorial services in New York during fashion week and in Dallas.