As the Dallas Morning News fashion editor for more than 30 years, East Dallas neighbor Tracy Achor Hayes attended fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan. She interviewed Karl Lagerfeld, the late creative director of Chanel, at his home in Paris and went shopping at Bloomingdale’s with Andy Warhol. She discovered supermodel Erin Wasson through a model search with the Kim Dawson Agency and supervised a fashion team that was sent to New York to cover fashion week, but ended up reporting on the aftermath of Sept. 11. Then in 2004, Hayes oversaw the transformation of the weekly fashion broadsheet into an expanded monthly magazine that covered fashion, style, design and dining. With Hayes at the helm, the magazine, FD Luxe, helped launch the careers of designers, models, photographers and young fashion writers. Since retiring from full-time work in spring 2018, Hayes has enjoyed some much-deserved time to herself. When she isn’t at her East Dallas townhome, she can be found about as far removed from the fashion world as one can get. Each summer, she and her husband spend several weeks hiking, kayaking and riding horses at a cabin tucked away in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Yes, even from the time I was a kid. I found diaries from the fourth grade with entries about what I was going to buy to wear on the first day of school.
How would you describe your style?
Someone once said I was half fashion, half hippie. I think he meant it as an insult. I took it as a compliment. I’ve never been interested in conservative things. I may be a woman who goes to lunch, but I will never be a lady who lunches.
How did you end up at the Dallas Morning News?
I went to school at the University of Texas and had a friend in the advertising department at Neiman Marcus. I used her as a reference and got an entry-level position. One of the fashion writers at the Morning News was leaving. The other writer had a strong journalism background, and they wanted to balance it with someone who had fashion experience. I worked at the paper for three weeks before I was on a plane to Milan. I had never taken a journalism course in college. I had barely written a story, but they took a chance on me. It paid off for me, and I think for them too.
What is one of your favorite memories from the Morning News?
We broke the news of Karl Lagerfeld joining Chanel. He was in Dallas and designing for Chloe. It was rumored that he was being talked about to take over Chanel. I asked him about it, and he said, “Yes.” I raced back to the paper and said, “Karl Lagerfeld just confirmed this.” I had to call Chanel. They wigged out and rushed to put out a statement.
(Photos courtesy of Tracy Achor Hayes.)
How did you end up shopping with Andy Warhol?
Bloomingdale’s was coming to Dallas, so when I went to New York to cover collections, I had to do a story on it. They were running an ad campaign with Andy Warhol. I was at a Halston show when he was there, and I was going to see if he’d let me go shopping with him. I went up to him after the show. He wasn’t surrounded. That’s how different it was. Two days later, I was walking around Bloomingdale’s with Andy Warhol while he bought bread and supportive stockings. He went up to the cosmetics counter and asked if they’d waited on anyone famous that day. I still have the cassette with that on it somewhere.
Tell me about FD Luxe.
That was one of the greatest joys. When the first issue came off the press, we cried. Fashion is so visual, and we now had a beautiful reproduction of the images we were making. As the Internet rose and classified ads reduced, FD was earning money. Suddenly, [the newsroom] was happy with us. We were left alone. We were allowed to create and do some things that pushed boundaries. I’m really proud of the way we covered LGBTQ issues.
What was the purpose of the magazine?
The purpose was to report international fashion news through the lens of what would be interesting to people here. The people here want to know what the next season of Louis Vuitton will look like, but do they want to know about a cool girl making hats in a studio in Oak Cliff? Yes, they do. I thought about our milieu, and it was the creative class that I pictured in our world. It was a win-win-win. As a reporter, I won because I got to interview someone really cool. Then I gave those people a platform for getting the news out about what they were doing. Then the reader got to know about something really cool.
How did you see the industry change while you were editor?
Fashion weeks have all become corporate. When I first started going, it was much more independent and cool. I was happy to see it when fashion shows were in tiny little showrooms or parking garages or Paris porn houses.
What’s in right now?
“What’s in” doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s so open for everyone’s self-expression and for everyone to find the tribe they want to belong to and feel happiest in. For most of my career, we’d have to do a men’s issue, and that would be the dullest, most boring thing. Now, menswear is unbelievable. I shop at men’s stores. It’s partly because of the way my life is now. It’s more casual, utility clothes like chore coats and denim.
What is your legacy?
I think my legacy is the people that I worked with. They have gone on to do major things. It was being part of a platform that gave so many people a way to find their creative footing and blossom and grow.