Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 45, Ed. 1 Friday, March 9, 2001 Page: 22 of 60
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hile singer Kristine W. may be the
headliner Saturday night when the
Dallas chapter of Design Industries
Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA)
hosts its much-anticipated Dallas
Collection 2001, the night will belong to Jan
Strimple. The Dallas-based fashion maven and
AIDS activist will be honored by DIFFA as a
"Legend in the Fight Against AIDS."
"The work that I have done is done because
there is a need, and because I have the sources
and the friendships, the relationships, and cer-
tainly the drive and the passion to do some-
thing like this," said Strimple in an interview
last week. "It's very nice that they're noticing
it, but I direct a team. I push them hard, but it
is a tremendous team effort — I don't sew
those costumes myself and I don't comb those
Strimple has been involved with the annu-
al Dallas Collection event since it began 12
years ago. She has modeled in 10 of the shows
and was the event's creative director and pro-
ducer for six years.
"I think my legacy at DIFFA is raising the
bar of volunteerism, and making a lot of peo-
ple take a long hard look at DIFFA because of
the level of the production," says Strimple.
"There were people that used to be paid in dif-
ferent support positions — on collections, for
example — and I basically said, 'Look, if I can
do this for free, you can do it for free too.' And
they're still there."
The event, which features an auction of
hand-decorated denim jackets donated by
celebrities and top fashion designers, has
become the largest runway fashion event in
says. "I'm a very assertive person and certain-
ly had the motivation — all I had to do was
look around me — and so I just said,
'What can I do?' I realized
what I could do — I
stepped out of the ranks
of modeling and into
the ranks of produc- A
grew up in Kent,
Ohio and started &g
modeling at the age
of 13. While study- ■
ing fashion market- /
ing and merchan- / ,
dising at the
Akron, she married
fellow student Dan
Strimple. After col-
lege, the two trav-
eled around the U.S.
for two years, then
settled in San Antonio,
where Dan launched
his career as a pro-
years later, in
t w o
Jan Strimple most?
discusses her life on
the runway and
to fighting AIDS
By Bradley David
22 MARCH 9, 2001
"In the last three years, the Dallas
Collection has grown to be easily a quarter of a
million dollar production, which somebody
can by a ticket to for $100," says Strimple. "It
would never happen if it weren't for all the
people who donate their services."
Strimple first became involved in the fight
against AIDS when her agent succumbed to
the disease in the mid-'80s.
"His name was Gary White — he was with
the Legends modeling agency in New York —
and he is the man who launched my interna-
tional career," says Strimple. "Although I had
probably known three people prior to Gary
that had died of AIDS, I didn't have a lot of
intimate knowledge about the disease. Gary
and I had several long conversations about his
struggle with the disease, and that was the
impetus for the work that I've done."
She says she realized early on that she
could be most effective not as a caregiver, but
as an organizer and fundraiser.
"I knew this industry, and I knew everyone
in it. And I know how to source things," she
moved north to Dallas.
"When Dan and I moved to Dallas, it was
not my intention to model," Strimple remem-
bers. "I thought, 'I'm going to get back into my
field and use my degree,' but I thought, 'Before
I go look around, I'm going to go see the big
agent here,' which was Kim Dawson, 'and
maybe make a little extra money modeling
until I land the right job.'"
She had been modeling consistently for 15
years, including a stint as a traveling hair
model for Loreal and Clairol, but it wasn't
until she was 28 that her career as a top inter-
national runway model took off. It all started
when the legendary designer Bob Mackie
came to Dallas to show his latest creations.
"He came to a store called Lou Lattimore —
it's no longer open, but it was a very high-end
store that carried extraordinary merchandise
— and they called the Kim Dawson agency
and said, 'We've got Bob Mackie coming and
he needs a six-foot tall model,"' Strimple
recalls. "I worked with Bob for two days and at
the end of the second day, he said, 'I don't
know what you're doing in Texas, but I want
you to come to New York and work with me.'"
With her unique look, she soon found her-
self conquering the runways of New York,
Paris and Milan.
"When I first hit the runways in New York,
I was called 'the white Iman,' because of the
length of my neck and the dramatic runway
presentation," she says. "Most light women —
blondes and redheads — are not considered
exotic. It's unusual to have an exotic look and
be lighter in coloring, so I had an unusual look.
I've worked with the finest talents worldwide,
and I've also been rejected by a few of the
finest, because my look is not a middle-of-the-
She credits Mackie with helping her devel-
op her fierce runway style.
"He's an absolute genius at walking the
line between glamour and humor," she says.
"He gives an audience absolute beauty and
absolute glamour. He takes it just to the edge,
and when it's just going to overpower them
See STRIMPLE on Page 32
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Vercher, Dennis. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 17, No. 45, Ed. 1 Friday, March 9, 2001, newspaper, March 9, 2001; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth615481/m1/22/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=client&utm_content=ark_sidebar&utm_campaign=ark_permanent: accessed September 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.