Fashion / Style

Highland Park’s Katharine Hepburn Brings Real Moxie (and Caring) to the Dallas Social Scene

Ann Hobson Takes Us Back to High School in the 1980s with Bomb Girl Style


I had thought about penning a piece a few years back for my PaperCity column, titled “A Best Friend Is …”

It was going to be a heartfelt letter written to my dearest soulmate, Ann Hobson. After 10-plus years of friendship, I could probably write the definitive biography of her sprawling time in this mortal coil — hundreds of pages exulting her intoxicating charisma, innate style and unbridled loyalty.

Ann’s friendship is like being enveloped in an Hermès cashmere blanket: warm, comforting and slightly indulgent.

I would cast Ann in the role of JoBeth Williams’ character from The Big Chill — at my funeral, adorned in a sable coat, and the organ playing The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Ann and I recently spent an evening going through old photos for this Bomb Girl feature. Primarily, pics spanning the late ’80s, when she was at Duke to the early ’90s, when she lived in New York City. She was obviously one of those Fashion Kool-Aid Drinkers like the ones who comprised my inner circle at school.

We reminisced for hours about labels such as Esprit, Joan Vass and early Marc Jacobs, who brought the world the concept of grunge. It was also the era of unfortunate asymmetrical haircuts, quadruple-pleated pants and shoulder pads.

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I am a firm believer that one can have style without having wealth. If Ann were poor as a church mouse, she would find a way to deliver taste in spades.

During an afternoon event at her home, Ann opted for a brocade pantsuit that I found for her at J.C. Penney. Most guests were wearing Dior and Cucinelli; still, numerous girls asked Ann where she had scored her “to-die-for” ensemble. Only Ann could make J.C. Penney seem luxurious.

Ann and her husband Lee’s philanthropy is well known, even though they generally prefer to remain anonymous in their generosity. They love supporting education, health care and the arts. Both served on the board of the Dallas Museum of Art. In fact, Ann hit it out of the ballpark when she chaired the 2017 Art Ball.

Still, the Hobsons are not showy by any stretch of the imagination.

As I often do with my Bomb Girls, I like to reference potential theme music for their lives. Ann is ’80s old-skool new wave like The Smiths, The Go-Go’s — her hairstyle from that time was similar to Belinda Carlisle’s bob — and some badass rock ’n’ roll such as Led Zeppelin’s “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do.”

After all, during her tenure in NYC, she spent equal time at bars on the Upper East Side and The Carlyle, but also ventured down to Indochine parties and the Bowery Bar on Tuesday nights, when it was filled with celebutantes with names like John John and Carolyn Bessette, Amy Sacco and Anna Sui.

I fantasize about Ann wearing her mom’s cultured pearls with a leather motorcycle jacket and shoes procured from the Susan Bennis Warren Edwards store on East 57th Street for a Pretenders concert, dancing with no abandon to “My City Was Gone.”

Ann is the quintessential girl on the go. She is Highland Park’s Katharine Hepburn, and embodies the word moxie, a forgotten term that could describe both women. She favors high-waist men’s-style trousers — perhaps Céline — paired with a Dior blouse and the accessories she is most known for: her charm and wit. I feel like the Truman to her Kay Graham.

Approximate date of this photo.

Spring 1984.

The occasion.

I was ready for a dance my senior year of high school. I was relaxed, having just received the news that I was going to the college of my choice — about to bleed blue [at Duke].

What you were wearing.

It was the ’80s, so of course, Victor Costa! I’d like to think I was wearing Joan & David shoes, but remember how expensive they seemed at the time?

What price fashion.

I had drunk the Kool-Aid at a young age and post-college found myself in NYC working for Saks. I remember one of my first big purchases: Isaac Mizrahi mythological-printed trousers that were $550 — that was retail. I was fortunate enough to get an employee discount.

Another pivotal piece was a Donna Karan blush-colored pantsuit that was slightly complicated and somehow I mis-tied. Victor Costa happened to be in the corporate offices the day I premiered the outfit. He pulled me aside to fix my mistake and quietly told me, “No, this is the way it’s done.”

Why is this a picture of you.

In retrospect, perhaps I’m not particularly proud of the dress, but I am proud that my hair has evolved with the times. And who doesn’t love a candy-striper?

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