Last March, I came across a 1920s-era castle for sale on Tokalon Drive. As a lifelong lover of European palaces, Tudor cottages, and fairytales, I was immediately obsessed. I got to thinking, how many castles are for sale in Dallas? Then: can I convince my bosses to let me write about it?
Turns out, it didn’t take much convincing, and I got started with this very important research. Word of my article spread, and soon my coworkers were pinging my inbox daily with palaces and castles all over North Texas. Then—in an incident now infamous in the D office—I spilled a full mug of tea on my laptop. The computer died, IT gave me “best practices” for drinking hot liquids at my desk, and my castle research was left in ruins.
I got a replacement computer and soon became busy with other stories; however, I didn’t forget about my palace passion project. Unfortunately, the Tokalon house sold for $2.5 million, but I found another castle (with a moat!) to feature in Hot Property. And after some urging from Editor in Chief Christine Allison, I finally got around to completing the story last month. With the support (and contributions) of all my coworkers once again, I rounded up 16 palatial homes across the region and judged them on their castle qualities: Did they have fancy facades or grand ballrooms? Were there dungeons? Stables and turrets were a coup. Only July 15, we hit “publish.”
While my castle story was undoubtably irreverent and silly (although I am adding “castle correspondent” to my resume), it does speak to a greater reputation here in North Texas: Dallasites love luxury. Whether it’s oohing and ahhing over the most charming houses in the city or enviously ogling the posh mansions of Dallas’ most recent transplants, we can’t resist lavish homes.
We also have a deep love for luxury shopping. Seriously, we can’t resist any news about Neiman Marcus or high-end jewelry, like Alyssa Teichman’s Wildlike, which celebrated its first birthday on July 9.
Keeks owner Kristen Donnell knows this all too well. When she opened her first handbag resell shop in Collin Creek Mall back in 2010, her business “plodded along” until she began selling vintage Louis Vuitton bags. “We were shocked when it flew off the shelves,” she told Kimber Westphall last month. “That was when we figured out that higher-end luxury was the way forward.”
Donnell now keeps an inventory of 4,000 designer handbags, from fashion houses like Christian Louboutin and Givenchy, in her Plano store.
There are plenty of reasons—some cynical, some historical, and many personal—for Dallas’ love of luxury. Some might call it snobbery, but celebrity hairdresser Kevin Charles might disagree with you.
For stylist Diamond Mahone, it’s because she wants her clients to be unique. “I prefer my clients not to be in the same things that a lot of people have,” she told D last month. Mahone prefers the “hunt and discovery” of smaller brands. She’s not the only one. When Market remodeled its Highland Park Village store in early 2020, it created room for brands and designers to launch pop-up shops and try their hand at a brick-and-mortar store.
“We really focus on offering a space to these new emerging designers, somewhere for them to come and test the Dallas market, to really get to know their customer on a one-on-one basis,” Keenan Walker, Market’s chief creative officer, told me earlier this year. That new model has certainly been successful: Four of the seven brands to pop up in Market have since opened permanent storefronts in Dallas. Whether you agree or not, in Dallas, luxury sells.
That’s just a peek into what we were up to last month. As for what’s coming next, we’re looking forward to Best of Big D (learn more and buy tickets to the August 4 party here), meeting an Etsy creator whose jewelry promotes mental health awareness, and exploring several new shops and salons. Have a story idea? Email me at [email protected].