The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Dallas fashionista: keeping it Strimple

Dallas fashion show producer Jan Strimple made her modeling debut at Wendy Ward’s Charm school in Kent, Ohio, at the age of 13. The class participated in a fashion show for graduation. At 5-foot-10-inches, Strimple was a natural fit.

Today, Strimple is a fashion show producer in Dallas and international couture model. She produces shows for both corporate and charity organizations. She is also hired to choreograph the creative side of events, often with help from interns from SMU and other area universities. Last week Strimple produced fashion shows for Fashion at the Park at NorthPark Center.

On Feb. 6 she put on a fashion show filled with bold colors and fun models on a 100-foot runway for 1,300 women at the St. Valentine’s Day Luncheon for Leukemia and Lymphoma at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. A few days later, she choreographed the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Debuatante Ball at Eugene McDermott Concert Hall for 44 debutantes and their families and guests.

Lauren Romo, an editorial assistant for FDLuxe, the fashion section in The Dallas Morning News, is a former Strimple intern and SMU student, and said that working for Strimple is exciting.

“She’s incredibly passionate, whether it’s a smaller charity show or a big show like Fashion at the Park,” Romo said.

Strimple modeled as a girl in Ohio but then went off to college, graduated and got married to Dan Strimple. They took a two-year honeymoon, traveling across the country with only $600 in their pockets. They got jobs in each city, rented out people’s garages, stayed for four to eight weeks in each place and then moved on to the next place chosen from a U.S. map. One time they lived in Cardiff by the Sea, Calif., in a tent on the beach and worked through a temporary job agency. Strimple stuffed envelopes for four days and worked the Burger Boy booth at La Costa serving burgers and sodas to the pro players at a La Costa tennis tournament.

The experience helped the couple discover a lot about themselves and they realized how “not average” they were, Stimple said. They learned quickly that their upbringings and work ethics stood out from the crowd.

“That fuels one’s self-confidence at that age when you’re still finding out who you really are,” Strimple said in an e-mail interview.

The traveling made her want to live somewhere between Texas and San Diego. When her husband got a pro-golfing job in San Antonio, she was introduced to high fashion and the internationally known “Texas excess.” The socialite and elite women would go to charity and social events in runway fashion that they would make their own.

“Those women wore precious jewels to lunch,” Strimple said over lunch at the Palomino restaurant in the Crescent downtown.

Strimple moved again to Dallas in 1980 when her husband got another pro-golfing job. He currently teaches golfing and is the head pro-golfer at Irving Golf Range in Irving, Texas. She applied at Tanya Blair and Kim Dawson modeling agencies. Although Tanya Blair turned her down for being too tall, Kim Dawson told her she wasn’t what the market was looking for, but they would list her. When Bloomingdale’s, Saks and other stores with a more international and national point of view came into Dallas, she fit in more with the models these stores were used to. In 1982, designer Bob Mackie discovered her and booked her for his New York press show. From there she modeled all over the world. She has been featured on CNN’s “Style” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She produces over 60 fashion shows a year, and her production company is Jan Strimple Productions.

Thais Azevedo began interning for Strimple at the fall 2007 Fashion at the Park fashion shows. She said that Strimple teaches the interns everything she knows, whether it’s styling a fashion show, putting the right colors together or learning the proper way to e-mail other professionals. Romo said Strimple is an incredibly hard worker who wants interns with a similar work ethic.

“She wants only hard-working people, not people who will just drink the champagne at the back of the fashion tents,” she said.

Strimple’s interns meet contacts through their work with her, and many interns get jobs from people they meet while working for her events.

“She wants to share because she’s had so many amazing experiences; she wants others to succeed like she has,” Romo said.

One of Strimple’s favorite things about her job involves her interns. She said she loves watching them change and gain a confidence boost when they come into the industry and really understand it.

“Watching interns find themselves in this industry is a fabulous feeling,” Strimple said.

Azevedo has had the feeling that Strimple wants that of her interns. After all the hard work is done, she enjoys watching the final product: the fashion show.

“It’s fun for me to look at someone walking down a runway and say ‘Oh my gosh, I put those clothes together and now the models are walking the runway and 500 people are watching them,'” Azevedo said.

Romo can’t study the basics of fashion in class because SMU doesn’t have a fashion program. Instead, she is a political science and journalism double major. She said you have to go above and beyond at SMU if you want to study fashion because the closest to it is studying art history or business.

A former SMU student, Victoria Steible transferred to Texas Christian University in her junior year in order to major in fashion merchandising. Steible was very involved with New Student Programs and her sorority at SMU. She said that she absolutely loved SMU and that she tried every major that might work within the fashion realm. Now she can take classes that specifically deal with fashion and even help prepare students for fashion internships and interviews for the fashion industry.

SMU admissions counselor Pavielle Chriss said in an e-mail that those who want to focus on fashion have a few majors as options. She said there are art history and business, and students can also join the Retail Club. Last year, Program Council put on its own version of Project Runway, and fashion designer Balenciaga’s designs were displayed at the Meadows Museum.

Strimple doesn’t think fashion is something that can be wholly taught in a class or with a textbook. Fashion trends can change in six months.

“The textbook publishers wouldn’t be able to keep up,” said Strimple.

The lack of a fashion program at SMU is one reason why Romo thinks Strimple is so important. She said people are now seeing that they can be a business major but get involved with Strimple and still get fashion experience. According to Romo, exploring Strimple’s background with events is almost its own major. Whether an intern is focusing on fashion design or practicing to be a fashion show producer, interns can study many different parts of fashion while working for Strimple.

“It’s amazing when you think about it,” Romo said. “She’s like this university. Jan Strimple University.”

Although it’s a lot of work, both Azevedo and Romo said it is amazing work. Interns should expect to work 15 hours a day or more before an event. They said she is meticulous. Azevedo is amazed at how creative Strimple’s shows are and how they are new every time. She said there’s not one flaw – the shows are designed to be perfect.

Romo said Strimple would never snap at anyone, though. She was originally intimidated by Strimple when she first met her. Her e-mails were so direct and to the point, but when Romo met her she realized that Strimple’s just very detail oriented. She knows what she’s doing and it has to be done correctly. Romo and Azevedo both talked of how Strimple cares about her interns.

“Even though she seems intimidating, she’s like this tall, beautiful, skinny teddy bear,” Romo said.

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