Some legends never die. This is certainly the case for Grace Jones (1920-2008), the legendary haute-couture dean of Salado who reigned over Texas fashionistas from 1962 to 2000.
Jones understood fashion marketing and high-end customer service so well that he put Salado on the map.
Author of Jones’ authorized biography, Austin fashion designer Mary Margaret Quadlander revised her self-published tome in 2012, added more photos (some of them unpublished) and highlighted different aspects of Jones’ life. .
Quadlander will be at Precious Memories Florist, 1404 S. 31st St., Friday, August 19 and Friday, September 16, both days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. signing books and welcoming visitors. The store will also display some of the clothes sold in Grace’s boutique.
Quadlander said she believed she had discovered Jones’ secret: “Selling clothes was her way of having a conversation with people. It was his way of meeting people at all levels.
She was among the few to whom Jones revealed his most intimate memories and thoughts during his later years. His rewritten book, also self-published, provides a fuller and less verbose account. The result is a story sprinkled with equal parts marketing knowledge, celebrities and Texas mythology.
The author adds more details about Grace’s service in World War II, first as a civilian pilot with the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) and traveling military wife, then her career in fashion shows. tony from New York where she learned “the rag trade”.
When Interstate 35 was under construction in Bell County, Jones opened his eponymous shop in a former cut-stone bank building in downtown Salado.
Only a few salons in the country reached Grace’s Salado establishment cache – and all of them were in much larger cities. The catalog of designers she represented was a veritable who-was-who of mid-century fashion giants: Geoffrey Beene, Lagerfield, Valentino, Ungaro, Louis Feraud, Christian Lacroix and Dior.
His coterie of clients was equally impressive: Lady Bird Johnson and her daughters as well as her publicist, Liz Carpenter; retailer extraordinaire Stanley Marcus; actresses Greer Garson, Loretta Young and Gene Tierney; humor columnist Erma Bombeck; and several wives of crooner Vic Damone.
The rich and powerful may have come for the dresses, but they stayed for the friendship and personal attention. Her innate sense of taste and style has won her admiration on the New York and European catwalks. She took it all home to Bell County, where the famous and near-famous shopped.
His parties were elegant, his friends powerful and his secrets well hidden behind a veneer of refinement and influence.
Few of his clients knew Waelder-born Willy Grace Rosanky, the daughter of a hot-tempered rancher with a penchant for gambling and his docile wife. Jones’ life, in some ways, was like a country song: two failed marriages, the death of twins, and overwhelmed family scandals.
Jones – and by extension the biographer Quadlander – preferred to focus on her modeling career in New York haute couture, her genius in marketing and self-promotion, and her exploits during World War II.