Brian Bolke remembers the glittering row of stores on Lovers Lane that attracted fur-clad society ladies with credit cards in hand and visions of designer dresses dancing in their heads. “In the ’80s, I could probably say that there wasn’t a city that had better independent retail than Dallas,” he says.
Then the market crashed. Reigning stores Lou Lattimore, Marie Leavell, and the Gazebo closed. When Bolke opened Forty Five Ten with the late Shelly Musselman in 2000, it reminded shoppers of the way Dallas used to be. The duo stocked exclusive new lines. The shop graced the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, celebrities stopped by (Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow were among the first), and designers began visiting to meet their local shoppers.
“Designers love women in Dallas,” Bolke says. “They’re beautiful and fun and accomplished and unashamed.”
They always have been, but finally—thanks in part to the city’s jet-setting style ambassadors—the fashion industry is taking notice. Last fall, Karl Lagerfeld made Fair Park the stage for his famed Chanel Métiers d’Art fashion show. More than 900 national and international guests flocked to exclusive seats along the runway.
“When you have that many influential people from around the world leaving Dallas and saying, ‘I had a blast,’ it rubs off,” Bolke says.
The halo effect is ongoing and so, too, is Forty Five Ten’s evolution. Next fall, in partnership with Headington Companies, the 14-year-old boutique will expand to a 45,000-square-foot, three-story retail space on Main Street adjacent to the Joule’s Eye sculpture by Tony Tasset. The new Forty Five Ten will have a restaurant (the cherished T Room), a street-front cafe, and a rooftop event space.
Since Bolke’s store paved the way for other indie shops, it’s fitting that its neighbors will be boutiques TenOverSix, Traffic Los Angeles, and Taschen—not to mention Neiman Marcus’ original flagship location. It’ll be a new golden age of retail.
“We want to bring fashion back to the point where you can discover something,” Bolke says.