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Peacock Alley is Celebrating 50 Years With a New Dallas Flagship in a Historic Uptown Home

The Luxury Linen Leader Remains True to Its Family Roots

BY // 12.27.23

Peacock Alley is celebrating a remarkable 50 years in business by launching a new flagship showroom in Uptown, set to open in February. The family-owned linens brand is relocating its longtime Dallas Design District showroom to a renovated circa 1900 house at 2711 Fairmount Street.

“The new showroom will give us the opportunity to show off all the different ways a room can be decorated — from a master to a guest room,” says Jason Needleman, who co-owns Peacock Alley with his brother Josh Needleman and their mother, Mary Ella Gabler, who founded the company in 1973. The brothers took over the daily operations several years ago, allowing Gabler to focus on product development.

A new generation is at the helm, but Peacock Alley remains true to its roots. Linens and bedding are still woven at mills in Italy and Portugal, and artisans in their Dallas workroom still hand-cut, sew, and embroider many of its pieces.

Mary Ella Gabler riding her Honda 50 motor scooter in Manhattan, 1964.

The Peacock Alley Origin Story

Gabler’s love of handmade textiles began in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where she grew up with antique quilts and learned to sew; she also helped care for the family’s linens, which were hand-washed and pressed with an old mangle. In the 1960s, her pioneer spirit led her to New York City, where she worked as one of the first women stockbrokers on Wall Street, turning heads as she zipped around Manhattan in a skirt and pearls on her Honda 50 scooter.

By the late ’60s, she was married and living in Dallas. Landing a job proved to be a challenge, however, as the city’s male-dominated financial powers balked at the idea of a scooter-riding female stockbroker. She sold the Honda and instead picked up a needle and thread, making pillows for her new home as a hobby. While hosting a dinner party, a patchwork boudoir pillow she had made caught the eye of a buyer for Neiman Marcus. He convinced Gabler to make 250 pillows to be sold at the store’s 1971 Fortnight celebration — and, as they say, the rest is history.

Josh Needleman restored a vintage Airstream trailer to carry Peacock Alley linens on cross-country sales trips.
Josh Needleman restored a vintage Airstream trailer to carry Peacock Alley linens on cross-country sales trips.

The Key to Success

Over time, Gabler carved a successful niche for Peacock Alley with the premise that an all-white bed is akin to fashion’s little black dress: Buy the best neutral basics and thoughtfully work everything else in. The company helped popularize matelassé as a staple and added bath towels, robes, and other accessories to its collections. Today, Gabler is credited with building the first woman-owned, woman-operated, multimillion-dollar bedding brand in America.

The path to success hasn’t always been easy. In 1983, China flooded the market with cheap handmade lace, causing Peacock Alley’s intricate lace coverlets to plummet in value. Woven on authentic Nottingham looms in New England — which had once produced coveted American Battenberg lace — the looms had lain dormant in a shuttered New England factory until Gabler helped rescue them. In a half-century’s time, the company has weathered two major global recessions — challenges for any company, but even more so for smaller, family-run businesses. Major turning points came when her sons Jason and Josh came aboard, and later when they built up its e-commerce business, Gabler says.

Peacock Alley linens at The Louis Hotel in Wilson, Arkansas.

Peacock Alley Today

There are now six Peacock Alley stores in three states and 250 retailers nationwide carrying its products. The brand is a favorite of interior designers such as Alessandra Branca, Ray Booth, and Mark D. Sikes, who used Peacock Alley linens in his redesign of Blair House, the private guest quarters of the White House. You’ll also find the bedding at boutique hotels around the country, including The Louis Hotel in Wilson, Arkansas, and the Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida. Peacock Alley’s newest lineup includes hypoallergenic mulberry silk inserts for pillows and duvets, along with a sumptuous two-inch-thick wool mattress pad, which is “truly like sleeping on a cloud,” Josh says.

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