“Dallas is like a painter’s palette; it is possible to create your own destiny.” – Jeanette Korab
In this ever-evolving Dallas fashion world, it’s important to take time to recognize the individuals who form the foundation of our industry. The designers, writers, photographers, and more, who have lived and worked in our fair city for decades, continue to thrive. They are masters of reinvention, setting trends as a way of life, even as we relative newbies strive to find the new, the now, and the next. Jeanette Korab is one those individuals.
A multi-faceted talent, Korab’s life in fashion has spanned the globe. After graduating from prestigious Stephens College in Missouri, she turned from student to instructor through teaching design in Switzerland. An accomplished accessory designer in her own right, she then returned to her Dallas home and launched a career in fashion photography in the 1980’s. Her subjects span industry icons from Edith Head to Karl Lagerfeld, and Korab’s camera also captured a young Jan Strimple before the ravishing redhead’s rise to supermodel stardom.
Fast-forward a few years, and with a young daughter at home, Korab’s focus shifted to another artistic arena: painting. The latent talent emerged on canvas in grand fashion, from haunting photorealistic vignettes of Carnival in Venice to lush, fantasy botanicals. And there our back story concludes, with more to come in the artist’s own words.
Accompanied by a glimpse inside her Uptown Dallas studio, Korab reflects today on her varied and exciting career. She’ll also paint a portrait of her latest venture, an innovative – and collectible – combination of her many gifts.
DFW Style Daily: Looking back, your career in fashion, design, and art is varied and fascinating. How would you describe Dallas, from an artist’s point of view?
Jeanette Korab: “Dallas is like a painter’s palette; it is possible to create your own destiny. All the tools are here. You need to find your passion and stay focused. I find Dallas very grounding, and always look forward to coming home from my travels.”
From Edith Head to a then-unknown Jan Strimple, you’ve photographed many exciting subjects over the years. Care to share a favorite story from a shoot or a show?
“I photographed Ft. Worth’s own, actress Ruta Lee, at her mansion in Beverly Hills. It was once owned by Rita Hayworth. The shoot was for the cover of Philanthropy in Texas Magazine, followed by fashion glamour shots outside on the beautiful terrace and grounds. It was a magical day in Hollywood – beauty documented.”
What strikes you as the biggest change in the fashion industry in our city, from the 1980’s to today?
“The Apparel Mart had amazing fashion shows [in the 1980’s], and Dallas is now on the radar for shows like Karl Lagerfeld’s Métiers d’Art and museum exhibits like the Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective at the DMA. Amazing shows are now created by the most famous of all Dallas models, Jan Strimple, who continues to wow us with her creative sense of style and grace. Dallas is a destination for fashion.”
What city or setting, anywhere in the world, do you consider most inspiring?
“Venice, Paris, and Istanbul have most inspired my art. Of course, there is the Palace of Versailles, where the chandeliers became a focal point of my camera, the many thousands of irises in Monet’s Garden, and champagne corks in Tuscany. I loved it all, and found beauty everywhere.”
Speaking of Paris, a fateful day in that city inspired a convergence of your talents for photography and painting. Tell us about that day.
“After painting the Eiffel Tower, photographing Notre Dame, and viewing art at the Louvre, I was ready to focus on the most glamorous part of Paris to me: fashion. This began with the Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I was ready to select any of Jacobs’ steamer trunks, and head off on a voyage around the world! I gained a higher respect for all Louis Vuitton designs after seeing the history and consistency of style, and perfection of execution.
“Then, a stroll through Le Jardin des Tuileries led to a nice cup of Parisian coffee. Continuing down the Avenue des Champs –Élysées, and journaling the afternoon in photographs, I found myself window shopping at the many galleries and boutiques. It was then that I spotted the classic stiletto featured in my Paris 2012 art.
“Viewing the famous Arc de Triomphe, I veered off on Rue Cambon and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré to admire the most beautiful of designs in the houses of Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and endless designer icons from Paris. My afternoon was filled with excitement and appreciation for the part of my soul that still adored the most glamorous of fashions and famous designer houses. Nothing better than to celebrate the day in true French style with a gourmet dinner and stroll by the Eiffel Tower at night, enjoying the magical city.”
Today, many of your works feature shoes and shoes and jewelry, while others also elevate ordinary objects (wine corks, tree trunks) to a beautiful new level. How do you choose your subjects?
“I am usually surprised at my new inspirations. Each travel destination brings out different subjects. The subjects become larger than life in my art, and I seem to have an up-close-and-personal relationship with them.”
Name an artist whose work you admire, past or present.
“I first came to admire Robert Rauschenberg after I met him in Dallas in the early 1980’s. His use of mixed media with photography struck a chord. When I met Zandra Rhodes, I was immediately drawn to her uniqueness and execution of design. Her book showed multiple talents, and the beautiful photos of her style and beauty. And finally, I met Karl Lagerfeld in 2002, and again had the opportunity to photograph him in Dallas in 2012. His use of multi-media in all aspects of art is truly inspiring.”
Finally, where can our readers find your art exhibited locally, and how might they contact you for custom works?
“My work can be viewed at the Milan Gallery in Sundance Square in Fort Worth, as well as at Shortell Design in Dallas. Appointments are available to discuss custom works through my website, JKorab.com.”
Photography by Jessica Adkins for DFW Style Daily.