Byline: RUSTY WILLIAMSON / HOLLY HABER
TRAINS OF THOUGHT
DALLAS — Wanna see the world’s largest steam locomotive?
Look no further than historic Fair Park here and the Age of Steam Railroad Museum.
It’s home of the “Big Boy,” a gleaming black steam locomotive weighing an awesome 1.2 million pounds.
Built around 1900, the towering train is also the shining star among nearly 30 other vintage rail cars, including eerily elegant passenger and sleeping cars from the Twenties and Thirties, as well as bright red cabooses and big yellow engines.
Touring the cars is like stepping back in time. One expects Carole Lombard or Clark Gable to emerge from the plush Pullman sleeping cars, where the beds are turned down to reveal pristine white sheets.
Lined up on several tracks at a train depot built in 1903, the train collection draws more than 25,000 visitors yearly, according to Bob LaPrelle, executive director.
“It’s a real family-oriented museum,” said LaPrelle. “We’re one of the best kept secrets in Dallas — we’ve been here since 1963. The trains blend education with entertainment. It’s a great place to spend the weekend.”
Expansion plans call for adding a vintage 1903 railroad control tower in the near future. There’s talk of moving the museum to Dallas’s popular West End and adding more trains to the lineup, but plans are still tentative.
The museum, owned and operated by the Southwest Railroad Historical Society, is also a popular location for movie crews.
Admission is $3 for adults and $1.50 for kids 12 and under. Don’t miss the quaint gift shop, housed in the train depot, where you can find all sorts of train memorabilia as well as books and games.
DALLAS — Looking to stock up on gifts to build volume? One of the hottest gifts around isn’t a candle, potpourri or bath oil: It’s a set of eight wooden cubes with one word printed on each side.
Like alphabet cubes for adults, Words Cubed blocks can be assembled to say all kinds of things, from serious to silly.
Ken Knight has sold about 700 of the $28 gifts in the past year at his eponymous card and gift shop at the Quadrangle center here. Knight also owns a neighboring contemporary apparel store.
“It’s a correlation to people’s desire to be creative,” Knight said. “That kind of quality is a rarity. People find it on other friends’ coffee tables and then they come in and buy it for a gift. It’s a really good price for a gift.”
Knight found Words Cubed at one of the Dallas gift shows. It’s represented by Patrick & Co. at the Trade Mart.
He figures Words Cubed will continue to sell well. Said Knight, “When something is this powerful, it takes a while to fizzle out.”
AN IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION
DALLAS — What to wear to lunch in Dallas? It’s still the suit, though these days a few more pantsuits are showing up along side the traditional skirt suits.
That was the dress code last month when Neiman Marcus played host to some of Dallas’s most fashion-conscious women at a luncheon and runway show for the Fashion Collectors of the Dallas Historical Society.
One hundred eighty ladies watched Neiman’s present the “best of spring,” which featured 100 looks by European and American designers with a finale of styles by Gianfranco Ferre.
The event also honored four women, who were presented with the Hall of State Award recognizing their civic leadership and personal style: Linda Gibbons, Juanita Miller, Tincy Miller and Margot Perot.
Since Neiman’s underwrote the luncheon, the event netted $18,000 for the Dallas Historical Society, which manages the Hall of State at Fair Park and collects and preserves Texas artifacts and vintage garments.
WHAT A DISH
DALLAS — Wendy Krispin is really cooking.
Not only is she one of the premier upper-crust caterers in Dallas, but she’s also the owner of two hot restaurants — both in the Design District.
Her newest venture, called Table 5, opened last fall at 600 Decorative Center, on Hi Line Dr. west of Oak Lawn Avenue.
The sun, the equator and being happy inspired the sleek, cool and bright Table 5, said Krispin. “The sun always makes me smile,” said Krispin.
A wall of windows bathes the white, gray and blonde restaurant in light, making the blue cobalt stemware sparkle like sapphires.
Table 5 is drawing a diverse crowd, including Dallas’s picky “Ladies who lunch” set, along with design professionals — the Decorative Center is just a few miles from the International Apparel Mart.
The menu is accented with spices and fruits from South America and the Caribbean. Lunch favorites include the grilled tuna on a bed of greens and covered in pineapples or the Asian noodles, which is the most popular dish in the house. There are also daily specials.
Krispin also has a self-named restaurant at 1025 North Stemmons, which serves New American cuisine.
Cozy and relaxed like a chic country club, the restaurant has been open about three years.
Popular dishes include the grilled orange, sage and garlic chicken and the grilled tuna burger.
Krispin stays booked far in advance with her catering service and is already putting the finishes touches on plans for several parties, including the Nordstrom opening March 21 at the Galleria here.
DALLAS — An innovative young designer from New York will take a stab at selling here during the March Mega Market at the International Apparel Mart.
Donna Haag, who has been in business almost three years, offers a stylish collection made exclusively from European fabrics. With wholesale prices ranging from $125 to $600, it’s geared for better specialty stores.
“What we’re trying to do is a young couture-inspired collection,” Haag explained. “We have a lot of dressmaker details, like silk linings and fine finishing techniques. Everything is clean-finished — it looks as clean on the inside as it does on the outside.”
The collection falls at the high end of what is sold at the Mart, but sales director Lorinda Gill-Pettersson figures there are customers here who like to dress well and appreciate quality.
“We have a good business in Florida, and I think we’ll do the same in Texas,” she said.
She introduced the line here in October for spring and picked up five new accounts. After skipping the slow January show here, Gill-Pettersson will be back for fall in room 4B41 of the International Apparel Mart.
“I’ve had a lot of interest in Texas,” she said. “It’s all a growing process.”
The fall collection spans from bold novelty styles to tailored looks. One of the boldest groups is stitched from an unusual double-faced fabric that is quilted black cotton and polyurethane pleather on one side and quilted silk satin in acid orange or green on the other. It’s sewn into funky little suits, casual outerwear and dresses.
Haag also offers a more office-appropriate group in a chocolate and ivory or charcoal and black wool and silk tweed with a subtle leather trim. She also takes a stretch gray flannel and mixes it with gray wool flannel and adds a pastel pink, blue or green pinstripe.
“All the fabrics are very light and good for the South,” Gill-Pettersson asserted.
Haag is careful to address different body types with her cuts, offering both long, fitted jackets and jackets that are less figure hugging, as well as both wide and narrow pants.
“We’ll do a dress with a jacket over it, or we’ll offer a jacket, dress and pant in the same fabric so [the customer] can wear it to work and also in the evening,” Haag said. “We try to offer a big assortment because we see the customer as someone in their late 20s to 60.”
Before starting her own firm, Haag earned a degree in fashion design from the Parsons School of Design in New York. She then worked as a design assistant with several budget and moderate companies in New York.
Her father Robert Haag, a former executive with Alberto-Culver Co., and other investors backed her to start her own company.
Haag feels her line, which did about $500,000 wholesale last year, will survive the hard times facing the apparel industry.
“I think if you offer good quality for the money, the consumers are a lot more educated and they can see they are getting a lot for their money in styling, silhouette and construction,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t want to spend $5,000 any more on a fur jacket. They can come to a young designer like me and spend a lot less money and get a similar luxury.”