For these 10 men and women, style transcends fashion. Personal aesthetic is identity. They’re artists, they’re musicians, they run their own businesses—they are, quite literally, leading a side of the city that embodies culture and collective appreciation for beauty. D Magazine enlisted a partner in Forty Five Ten to help identify the most stylish people in Dallas. The downtown department store allowed each to select a white shirt, which they styled themselves for their photo shoots. Get to know them. Once you see them, you won’t forget them.
Cristina Lynch’s earliest memories are of her Mexican heritage: dressing up as mariachis with her brothers, road tripping through the country with her family, being introduced to the colorful 200-year-old style of traditional embroidery that would later inspire her brand. Mi Golondrina is nestled on Mockingbird Lane—the perfect location for a clothing line whose name loosely translates from Spanish to ‘songbird.’ It’s also ideal for Lynch, who has filled the showroom-workshop-studio space with a team of seamstresses and quality control experts she calls las perfeccionistas. Then there’s the group of artisan women who work from Oaxaca and smaller villages, whom Lynch visits in person and keeps up with via text for status updates. “It’s so special to work with a group of women … there’s kind of this understanding that we all want to grow this,” she says.
Like the designs she shepherds from first stitch to showroom, Lynch is both colorful and traditional. That style sense largely came from her mother, whom she says fostered the attitude of authenticity and reverence found at Mi Golondrina, raising her with a loving balance of hand-me-down clothes from her brothers and “dressing me up like a Mexican doll.”
“My mom loves clothes, I think, more than most people. And not in a designer label way, but like, with mixing things. … I love that she has a lot of fun with it.”
In Dallas, it’s easy to see Leon Bridges’ style for yourself. He’s wearing a trim gray suit on the streets of Deep Ellum, busking with a man he doesn’t know. He’s at Beauty Bar on a Thursday, dancing to DJ Sober in a leopard print polo. He leans heavily on vintage pieces that he’s collected for the love of finding clothing with a backstory—like a favorite cream-and-blue plaid blazer that once belonged to a 1950s Compton preacher—plus reproductions of styles from the bygone eras that inspire him. But he also cites rapper A$AP Rocky, blues singer Tito “The Original Harlem Slim” Deler, jazz/blues/folk singer Pokey LaFarge, and roots-rockers The Texas Gentlemen as important influences, largely because their distinctive senses of style extend far beyond the status quo.
“I’ve always loved style,” Bridges says. “I remember even as a kid, I loved the whole vibe that Usher did. I loved the whole hip-hop thing—even the “Mo Money Mo Problems” video with P. Diddy.”
Bridges was born in Atlanta, but moved to Fort Worth when he was 2. He hasn’t always been a huge fan of Texas’ country western vibe, but he’s embraced it since finding musical success that’s taken him outside his adopted home. That’s not to say you won’t still find him in stores here, adding to his vintage collection at Dolly Python or Lula B’s in Dallas, picking up a Stetson shirt from Fort Worth’s W Durable Goods, or cowboy boots at Montgomery Street Antique Mall. And while he’s now best known for his musical talent, Bridges credits his background in dance and choreography as an important style point of origin. “We would have to perform certain pieces and had to go to the costume shop and pick out an outfit for that dance,” he explains. “Just being in there and seeing all of the vintage clothing rubbed off on me, and I made it up in my mind that it was something I wanted to do every day.”
During her tenure at the Dallas Contemporary, Justine Ludwig’s exquisite taste gets seen on the walls. She’s enlisted artists Pia Camil and Ambreen Butt to explore themes like globalization and consumerism and political oppression. You can find her own words in a regular column she pens for Patron, focusing on the work and studio practice of artists living and working in Dallas. She puts that same level of consideration into what she wears, favoring comfort, utility, and ease. She cites TENOVERSIX’s stable of emerging designers like Nomia, which produces clothing that can be easily packed, re-packed, and re-worn on her frequent world travel. She looks chic anywhere from Berlin to Dubai.
“I do most of my shopping when I travel, so I like acquiring pieces that have a story with them that I then get to carry with me,” she says, adding that she favors versatile shift dresses, bright nail polish, earrings that complement her always-short hair, and ensembles that can go from art installation to gallery opening without much finagling. “I wear clothes for forever; once I have something, I’m in love with it and I’m never going to stop wearing it.”
Ludwig is originally from Massachusetts and grew up between there and her mother’s native Switzerland. She has lived and worked in Dallas for just three years, but says it already feels like home.
“What I love about Dallasites is that they like challenges, they like things that are outside of their comfort zone,” Ludwig says. “People in Dallas have a really high level of visual literacy—higher than anywhere else I’ve ever been. … I never have to convince anyone that art is important.”
Michelle Nussbaumer finds her inspiration in the places she’s been and in the people she’s met—and mixing it all together. She collects tribal jewelry from around the world. She reaches into decades past for inspiration— the 1940s, in particular—and then reinvents those styles. Vintage patterns she’s saved from near and far get mixed with her namesake fabric line, which she produces and sells in her Design District storefront, Ceylon et Cie. Her business is an extension of her, and it’s taken her everywhere. Interior design work extends from London to Cairo to Guadalajara. Licensing deals on fabrics, jewelry, tiles, artwork and other designs are seemingly always in development. All that work led the mother of four to publish a book last September called Wanderlust: Interiors That Bring The World Home, which, of course, she’s been traveling with on a book tour. Because all that isn’t enough, Nussbaumer is also a contributing editor to Veranda magazine.
“The main point about my style is that it’s creative and artistic and authentic and personal to me,” Nussbaumer says, citing bold patterned pieces and large statement jewelry among her favorites. “I was in the theater and studied set design, so there’s some aspect of that I like to play a part sometimes.”
Erykah Badu calls herself a unicorn. Her movements have been equated to those of a butterfly. Others have said she’s a cosmic being from another universe altogether. All those comparisons originate here on Earth, where the Neo-Soul legend and style icon mixes, layers, and melds the physical objects that help her create art and music into wearable accessories that reflect her tastes. She’s crafted a tuning fork into a piece of jewelry. A geometric sculpture doubles as home décor and headpiece. She’s incorporated clothing from thrift stores and art from galleries. These things all speak to her; sometimes, she believes they once belonged to her in another time, space, or life. “Accessories—those are the things that are really important; the other stuff is just stuff so I won’t be naked,” Badu says. “Some of them are relics or amulets or talismans or things that move me. Some are things that have been passed down; some things my kids make.”
Experimentation happens onstage, at home, and in the studio. She approaches making music much in the same way she approaches dressing herself. They are both creative endeavors, each a path of self-expression, and she travels between these processes effortlessly.
“Sometimes it takes lots of putting on and taking off of lyrics or garments before I settle into something that I’m really comfortable in,” she says. “I dress in layers, and I move in layers. … If it looks like it’s from Flashdance and I can mix it in with something, then that’s what’s comfortable to me.”
To Badu, style is something innate, exclusive to a person’s DNA, down to the things they like to smell, taste, feel, and hear. Life is a sensory experience that’s only enhanced by her art—and the way she chooses to wear it.
If Kendall Eckerd Falcon invites you to her live-in studio in the Cedars, you’ll walk into a warm, skylit room and likely gravitate toward the green vinyl booth in the corner—a retro seating dream that came with the space that she shares with her husband, Anthony. Their shared workspace is just around the corner. This is the de-facto headquarters of Clan of Cro, her online storefront that encompasses a private clothing label, plus her sharp edit of vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Largely inspired by the women in her family, Clan of Cro is produced almost entirely by Eckerd Falcon, who throws herself into the entire process from concept to sale. With names like ‘Girlhood,’ ‘Lady,’ and ‘Déjà Vu,’ Clan of Cro’s vintage-inspired collections are unique pieces that hark back to decades occupied by the women who raised her, such as her maternal grandmother’s short-sleeved blazers, sunglasses, and costume jewelry. “Even in photos with all of the other people and her family, she just looked so much more glamorous,” Eckerd Falcon says. “My grandmother on my dad’s side is also a huge influence; she’s an incredible seamstress. She started teaching me how to sew when I was nine. In a way, I feel like she taught me the importance of clothing.”
She returned to Dallas after several years in Los Angeles at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and working for designer NAMI. Eckerd Falcon now has three limited-edition collections under her belt with a fourth out in a few weeks. She showed her Fall/Winter 2017 collection at New York Fashion Week, and will debut her Spring/Summer 2018 collection later this month.
On most Sundays, Fred Holston meanders through Downtown Dallas, making a point to stroll into the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. This weekly ritual fuels his passions for art and introspection, which aids in his own self-expression. He calls his aesthetic “gay witch”— imagine a Rick Owens jacket (he coveted this for years), layered turquoise jewelry (most of this came from routine trips to West Texas) cascading indigo scarves (from a friend’s shop in Austin) and his signature long, wildly curled hair. The 26-year-old was born and raised in East Dallas and started working at the Kim Dawson Agency five years ago, the same company that launched the careers of Erin Wasson and Selena Gomez.
While his work and his love of the fashion industry are centered in Dallas, Holston often takes a weekend Megabus to Austin to visit friends and their vintage shops. This is his retail therapy and respite, another ritual that keeps his energy young (think Patti Smith, he says). He credits his brave sense of style and self-expression to his father, Bill Holston, the magnificently mustachioed executive director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, an organization that gives free legal counsel to immigrant survivors of violence. The younger Holston exudes that same sort of kindness, empathy, and authenticity in how he carries himself, and he tries to reflect that with what he puts on his body. His effortless haute-psychedelic style is a product of open mindedness, artistic appreciation, and warm heartedness. It is an invitation—so if you see him in an art gallery on a Sunday, say hello.
Jonathan Merla remembers how his late father dressed, how the pastor favored double-breasted Italian suits or topcoats and lounged in a crisp Polo that he tucked into tailored slacks. There was an aura of presentation about him, no matter the day or the activity. “I think I inherited, kind of, that ethos about style and how to wear things,” Merla says.
Merla is a man of many inspirations and tastes—and Balenciaga dad hats. His father’s topcoats and suits now mingle alongside “nerdy fashion shit” from designers like Raf Simons and Haider Ackermann—both of whom he credits as important influences. He incorporates gold pieces from his girlfriend’s jewelry collections on one hand, and silver on the other. “Not because of any cool aesthetic reason,” he says, “just because I can’t commit to either/or.”
Merla’s noncommittal attitude is usually punctuated by an ensemble that’s professional enough for the days managing client relations at Forty Five Ten, but comfortable enough for his nights drumming for Nelly Furtado and local outfit Ishi. The drop-crotch pants and loose-fitting shirts are usually so cozy that he doesn’t even have to change to walk his dog, a French bulldog puppy he named after Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo. Comfort and style are intertwined.
“I wear huge wide-leg pants now; I don’t give a shit. I’m a curvier man, so I play with proportions a lot,” he says, flashing a smile. “I’m not stuntin’ for nobody but myself.”
Their father worked in oil and gas, which means the Knowlton sisters moved 17 times in their adolescence before settling in Dallas: Venezuela and Australia and Houston and Charleston, to name a few. An upbringing that transient would shape anyone’s worldview; Sarah and Natalie decided to soak up those experiences and translate them into a successful blog, We the Birds, a nod to birds of a feather—and families, for that matter—sticking together when constantly on the fly. During their fashion-formative years in high school while living in Singapore, they relied on the U.K.’s Topshop and Spain’s Zara and MANGO for Western style cues.
“I remember when we moved back to the U.S., we didn’t know what to do,” Natalie says. “We named our dog Zara! It was such an obsession.”
By the end of the year, We the Birds has plans to expand its small team from in-home operations to a space on Bryan Street with a commercial kitchen. This gives the custom French macaron business that Natalie launched more room to grow. Both are also co-authors for the blog; creative-brained Sarah develops collaborative creative partnerships with local and national brands. These pairings have manifested themselves in myriad ways, from popup events to photography to social media campaigns.
“Sarah and I, coming from our international background—we try to use that worldly view in our fashion and in our voice with our audience,” Natalie says.
One thing is certain: These women are confident in their urbane style, and proud to share it through curated and thoughtfully branded photographs and editorial content. It’s simple, Sarah says: “Anybody can relate to the fact that we’re human and we’ve been all over the place.”
If you’ve visited the Neiman Marcus Shoe Salon at NorthPark in the last few decades, chances are you shared the space with Patrick Tichacek. The St. Louis native started working for Neiman’s out of college as Christmas help. He stayed for years, learning the company, ascending the ranks. He’s settled in as a sales associate in women’s shoes. Neiman’s has afforded a front-row seat to many iterations of fashion trends, which has had an impact on the way Tichacek thinks about style in general. Today, he favors Tom Ford, Berluti, Hermès, and other labels carried at Neiman’s. “I don’t limit myself though, so I’ll shop everywhere,” he says. “It’s the thrill of the hunt.” Standing tall and always sharply dressed, Tichacek is approachable and ready to detail materials, designers, and points of inspiration. He can also tell you about how Dallas has changed: “It’s certainly become more casual and more artsy than it used to be; people are not just wearing head-to-toe Escada suits any longer.” And he can tell you all about how technology has reshaped the fashion industry, only enhancing his retail relationships. “It’s fun getting to know someone and what they like,” he says. “You see something come in, and you text them a photo of it and they ask you to send it to them because they trust you.”