Society / The Seen

Trying New Things With Jan Barboglio — An Afternoon With the Storied Dallas Designer

A Walk Down Memory Lane in Greenway Parks, With an Important Pit Stop in the '80s

BY // 09.08.20

I should start a podcast with this month’s Bomb — perhaps titled “Trying New Things With Jan.” Jan Barboglio welcomes me into her Greenway Parks home and immediately asks, “Would you like to try some tequila in your iced coffee?” She saw something earlier today about using Topo Chico instead of water to make espresso. And apparently throwing some tequila into one’s cup is an old tradition for the Barboglio family. My response: “But of course.” Somehow when you enter Jan’s slightly eccentric and definitely exquisite world, everything makes sense.

In the foyer of her home, I’m greeted by a black-and-white portrait of a stylish woman brandishing a long pistol à la Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. That’s Jan’s mother (of Scotch-Irish descent) who, alongside her husband (of Italian descent), raised Jan and her siblings in North Central Mexico. This is the house where Jan has lived for decades and raised her own three children, who have now given her seven grandchildren. I have the feeling that she thrives and flourishes when surrounded by a whirlwind of activity.

Reared on a cattle ranch that was once shared with Mexican revolutionaries, Jan was enchanted from an early age by the history and culture around her. When I ask her today to describe Mexico, she says, “Soul and spirit. Because as much as I love the United States, I wouldn’t use those words to describe our country. Soul is the terrain, and the spirit is the sounds, smells, and the feast for the eyes found in every region of Mexico.”

After graduating from Southern Methodist University, like so many others with style and an eye for fine things, she found herself working at Neiman Marcus. Jan went into the executive training program, and developed an appreciation for the home decor and gift departments. After leaving Neiman’s, she began a fashion business with her equally stylish sister, Cristina Lynch, the Barboglio Cristina & Jan Collection, that was a sensation in the ‘80s. “We were carried by all the usual New York suspects (Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman), but we gave Neiman’s an exclusive for the rest of the country,” says Jan.

After that chapter, Jan segued into sculpting accessories and furniture for her own home. Her creations caught the eye of former colleagues at Neiman Marcus; the Jan Barboglio Collection is now found at most Neiman Marcus stores across the country, as well as at other specialty stores — a collection of rustic crosses and candelabra to bowls and blessing items, fashioned from iron, gemstones, weather-worn saddle leather, glass, wood, and wax.

As we walk through her home (with a hint of mariachi music wafting from the kitchen) to the iced coffee with a splash of tequila awaiting us on her back patio, she points out that her dining room has been set up like a showroom since a week before the order came to shelter in place back in March. Why? She’s recently launched a jewelry collection and had been planning to host trunk shows. It’s marvelous and magical, and I begin coveting items at first glance.

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Approximate date of this photo.
1980s.

The occasion.
My sister, Cristina, and I had been asked to take part in a photo shoot for a magazine wearing designer jewelry collections.

What were you wearing?
We were to dress in something from our collection, and we chose strapless smocked cotton dresses. We had named all the prints we’d had custom-made. Tina was wearing Hot Passion, and mine was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. In hindsight, that was right on for our personalities. I’m pretty out there.

What price fashion?
Because of my height [6 feet], I have never been able to buy something off the rack. Therefore, I‘ve shunned fashion, per se, and developed my own style. It’s hard to quantify. What I’m wearing could be part couture, part uniform, part flea market find, or even a tablecloth. I also wear my shoes very large [she’s a size 7 and shares that the boots she frequently wears are size 9] to balance my small foot against my scale.

Why this is a Bomb.com picture? 
Tony Longoria had done our makeup. He was trying to make us comfortable in front of the camera and was telling us how sensual and sexy we looked. We were trying so hard to be as alluring as we could, but then we would start laughing hysterically. I’m not sure they even got a usable picture — this was an outtake.

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