PaperCity Magazine

March 2020- Fort Worth

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Page 97 of 99

96 F or more than a decade, I've spied this month's Bomb, dressed in cocktail frocks and taffeta ball skirts that rustle as she glides through the most swellegant of Dallas soirées. But each time I tried to introduce myself, she seemed to be climbing into a luxury SUV to head home to Fort Worth. I began to think of her as our resident Cinderella, dashing off before her chariot turned into a pumpkin. Once we finally met, I learned that Olivia Kearney is one of the few girls passionate about charities in both Dallas and Fort Worth. A true fashion devotee, she shared with me that her love for a really good kitten heel was likely inherited from her mother and grandmother. However, those ladies were staunch believers in the less-is- more approach. Her mother would often proclaim, as Olivia walked out the door on a date: "Remember, Olivia: Always look in the mirror and take B Y B I L L Y F O N G two things off." But her words fell on deaf ears, as Olivia told me, "I would go back and instead put three more things on." By the time she was in her 20s, Olivia made her way to the mother ship, Neiman Marcus, where she spent many years as the fashion coordinator for the Greenhouse, the luxury spa that Neiman's ran in Arlington. For those who missed its mid-century heyday, the Greenhouse was like a set out of the Rosalind Russell film The Women. Clients came from Dallas, Fort Worth, and around the globe. On any given afternoon, Olivia said she might see "Mrs. Hearst in from San Francisco, or Brooke Shields with her mother, in for a few days of respite and beautification treatments." Olivia, as the fashion coordinator, would help them find the perfect dress at Neiman's downtown store. During her professional career outfitting the ladies from the oil dynasties that we know so well, she became active with many charities including the Junior League and its programs with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Each summer, Olivia would spend a week volunteering at a camp for children suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. "It was the rudder in my life, and I did that for eight years," she says. She met her husband, powerhouse attorney Jeff Kearney, during a golf tournament at Gleneagles Country Club benefitting CFF. Call it love on the links. After they were married, she made his home, Fort Worth, her home. But to even the deepest-rooted locals, it seems as if Olivia has lived in Fort Worth forever. These days, the cause nearest to her heart is Rivertree Academy. Located in the underserved Lake Como neighborhood, Rivertree is a private Christian school largely supported by donations. When Olivia heard that its students were struggling, she made it her mission to fund a robust education for each of them. Leaping in to help where help is needed, that's Olivia. Approximate date of this photo. 1979. The occasion. The portrait was shot at the Greenhouse and was used to promote the spa to the ladies shopping for evening gowns. During this period, I would put on an informal fashion show on Tuesday evening in the spa's drawing room. Picture the scene: the ladies in their caftans and turbans after receiving treatments, getting a taste of couture. Then on Thursday, they would come to the downtown store for lunch and often stay until 7 at night, shopping for the gowns they had seen earlier in the week. What you were wearing. A Geoffrey Beene evening gown from that year's spring collection. It was probably around $2,000, which was definitely out of my budget. What price fashion. I learned early that investment clothes are just that – investments! Of course, I had my Neiman's discount but I had an eagle eye and would shop every sale. My very first big purchase was a YSL wool challis paisley-print dress with ruffles around the neck, and was likely $200 to $300 — my maximum. Why is this a picture. It captures a very special era at Neiman Marcus and the Greenhouse, a time of beautiful couture clothes, incredible service, and once-in-a- lifetime experiences. It was the best education I ever received. OLIVIA KEARNEY SHE'S THE BOMB Olivia Kearney, 1979 96

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