PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Dallas

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Page 165 of 167

164 SHE'S JAN STRIMPLE THE BOMB B Y B I L LY F O N G M y eyes furtively scanned the crowd at Bistro 31 as I searched for my date. Then I saw her. First the beautiful hands, dripping with rings (the most impressive being a large coral in an intricate setting). Then our eyes met, and I was given a smile. Those were the enchanting eyes of this month's Bomb: Jan Strimple. Every girl is a society portrait. Some are quintessential Gainsborough girls, stately and poised; others come straight out of a Currin canvas. Jan Strimple is equal parts John Singer Sargent and Francis Bacon. Her striking features beg easy comparison to Sargent's Madame X, but her style leans toward the dark and gothic that's oft-expressed in Bacon's paintings. The day we met was excruciatingly hot, but the effortlessly glamorous Jan was impervious to the three-digit temps. This month's spent many years in high-fashion modeling (and still does on occasion), so keeping her cool under all circumstances is an art she has mastered. Grace and strength are two characteristics that define Jan — perhaps now more than ever as she bravely fights breast cancer, a diagnosis that hasn't slowed her down one bit. In 1986, Jan was asked to pose as a model for Rootstein Display Mannequins. What she lovingly refers to as the "Jannequin" was, of course, hairless. Due to that likeness, when Jan decided to shave her head during her chemotherapy treatments, she was fortunate to already know what she would look like: fearlessly stunning. Jan's mother was a singer and toured nightclubs around the U.S. and Canada. The family lived in small town Kent, Ohio; the closest metropolitan environment was Akron. (Imagine that as your "big city" reference point.) She met her husband, Dan Strimple, in high school. As an extended honeymoon, Jan and Dan spent two years traveling the country. It was a liberated time, and the couple reveled in the counter-culture movement. Call this era Jan's hippy phase: She wore her natural brunette hair long — a lot like Ali MacGraw, boho dress and all. After their vagabond journey along Route 66, it was time to find gainful employment. Dan secured work at a golf club in San Antonio (yes, Jan is married to a jock). And it was here that Jan the model was discovered. She had modeled some as a teenager growing up in Kent; her mother had modeled and knew it could help a woman secure extra income. Alas, Jan's first gig wasn't terribly fashionable — a print ad for rat poison, a role she won for her beautiful hands. Where she landed as a model is a far cry from that first shoot: From 1982 through 1988, she was a mainstay on casting calls and catwalks for Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani. In the last decade, her focus has moved behind the scenes. Her company, Jan Strimple Productions, provides styling services and manages events, primarily runway shows. Having never had children, Jan is proud to have nurtured many young women, who learned the trade from the fashion master. Approximate date of this photo. Early 1970s. The occasion. A photography student in my high school class asked if I would pose for his "fashion shoot" assignment. What you were wearing. An inexpensive top and knee- high suede boots. Like most Ohio girls, I grew up sewing and spent hours looking through pattern books. When Halston first offered patterns, I was so excited. Polyester stretch fabrics were all the rage, so I whipped up this midi-skirt. I felt like I had stepped off the pages of Vogue! This was also the outfit I was wearing when I met Dan. I was a junior standing outside of our high school when he drove in to pick up the senior girl he was dating. I wore an orange Bakelite elephant pin on the skirt, and Dan swears he asked me out because he was sure I was a Republican. What price fashion. The skirt probably cost about $20 in fabric and buttons. Why this is a picture of you. This is a glimpse into the future me. Growing up, we were encouraged to be ourselves and to express ourselves freely — but kindly. Fashion was a key part of my self-expression, and I was vehemently opposed to dressing like others. (God bless my Mother — don't you know I was a fashion hellion!) While the girls wore solid Bobbie Brooks A-line skirts, matching V-neck sweaters, and a button-down-collar blouse, I sewed wild pieces and wore dramatic clothing, often black, to high school. Jan Strimple, early 1980s

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