As the founder of The SIL (The Stuff I Love), Natalie Bloomingdale is constantly on the hunt for under-the-radar designers who frequently forgo e-commerce—or for brands keen to do an online exclusive collection.
The Texas native launched her site in 2017 with just a handful of hard-to-find designers, most of whom she had been wearing for years. “I’d be in the powder room at an event, washing my hands, and someone would ask me about my dress,” says the Los Angeles–based Bloomingdale. “I’d be happy to share the name of the designer, but then have to apologise because it would inevitably be someone who was near-impossible to track down. I finally got the idea to launch my own site to give these brands the platform to share their designs.”
The SIL now represents over twenty different designers—all but one is female—and each must only offer exclusive designs for the site, not available anywhere else. Recent additions include Emilia Wickstead, whose wool crepe dresses are on offer, and ZAZI Vintage, the first time the Amsterdam-based brand offered saïda dresses (made in collaboration with the UN Ethical Fashion Initiative) on an exclusive basis.
While she currently counts Los Angeles as her home base, she heads back to Dallas nearly a dozen times a year to see friends, family, and clients. Here, she shares her insider guide to all things fashion and fun in Dallas.
Image above: Bloomingdale (left) and designer Tish Cox (right) at a SIL event in Los Angeles.
Dallas is so spread out. What are your favourite neighbourhoods?
There are so many wonderful neighbourhoods to explore in Dallas. When you venture out, you can really dive into unique communities with their own little vibe. I love the walkability of the Harwood District in Uptown. It’s almost like its own little city, refined and modern. They have some of the best restaurants—Mercat, a true European-like bistro and Te Deseo, which is Italian with a splash of whimsy—and they took the historic Saint Ann School and turned it in to one of the best restaurants in town with what I believe is still the largest garden patio in Dallas. The developers of the district did an extraordinary job of integrating beautiful green spaces and parks – and museum-worthy art, in even their office space lobbies.
I also enjoy visiting the Bishop Arts District, which is no surprise since I have a thing for the independent and off-the-beaten path. It feels a bit like Austin, another amazing Texas city, with its funky charm and unique personality. I always love popping in to Dude, Sweet Chocolate to taste what they have cooking, and Lucia is probably the most difficult reservation in town – but Eno’s is a great neighbourhood restaurant where locals have their own beer mugs hanging for when they come back.
What’s your first stop when you come into town?
I bee-line for the Mansion Bar. It feels like home. It’s cozy, with its cognac-and-oak palette, wood floors, velvet seats… and the champagne somehow tastes crisper there than anywhere else. It’s a proper bar—and squarely Texan.
What’s off the beaten path?
Renowned facialist Joanna Czech books months in advance, but her talent is worth the wait. It’s hard to say what I enjoy most, my time with her – or the results. She has the best sense of humour and is an utter joy to be around. I’m always sad when my visit’s over, but happy to share that she’s launching a product offering, so I can take a piece of her home with me.
The SIL was the first to bring Dallas designer Tish Cox online, although there’s nothing like meeting the maker. Tish has a studio off Lovers Lane where if you’re lucky, you can catch her in- person and have her introduce you to her wonderful world of impeccably chic designs: ladylike, but with an edge.
When it comes to shopping, I always like to see what Hadleigh’s is up to… the husband-and-wife duo named their fashion house after their firstborn. They’ve got a storefront in Highland Park Village, but they have an unbelievably gorgeous atelier upstairs that’s by appointment for those interested in bespoke.
Revered fashion entrepreneur Brian Bolke launched his new concept called The Conservatory in Highland Park Village. I appreciate his edit and merchandising.
Michelle Nussbaumer is one of the most influential women in design, having graced the pages (and cover) of titles like Architectural Digest again and again. Her design emporium, Ceylon et Cie, is in the Design District, and the place is a true wonder to behold with the most eye-catching finds and exuberant vignettes of colourful compilations.
Lastly, Grange Hall is a must-visit for exquisite pieces and delectable dining. Everything is tailored and curated to delight the senses, from the flatware used at the dining tables to the curious and lavish treasures owner Rajan Patel sources for the shop from across the globe. I could (and have) spent hours there perusing the opulent oddities and rarities.
Best places to stay?
My favorite hotel in Dallas is The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. They just unveiled a huge redesign of the rooms and lobby, and the pool has been upgraded to feel more like a resort. The staff is always lovely—so warm and welcoming. They make everyone feel at home there. They have a high retention rate for good reason.
That said, the best spa in town has to be at The Joule. The other-worldly subterranean space boasts steam rooms, saunas, ice fountains, pools, and high-tech showers. It’s dazzling. Plus, they have a salon for a post-treatment blowout.
You can’t go to Texas without eating steak and queso. Best spots for each?
Bob’s Steak & Chop House for steak. Queso is tough though! I could drink it through a straw anywhere I go because we don’t have Tex-Mex restaurants in Los Angeles, which should be a crime. Mia’s is up there.
I have to mention that the best burger in town is over at Maple & Motor, because the grill is always the secret at these burger places, isn’t It, and this one came from Vernon, Texas —my hometown.
Describe the Neiman Marcus experience…
There’s a sense of nostalgia when I go to the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places! I think of my grandmother who had a personal shopper to send her things in Vernon – and I hear stories of the pilgrimage she made with my dad every year for Christmas when he was young. They’re still serving their famous popovers at the Zodiac restaurant on the 6th floor, and their window displays at Christmas are iconic.
What’s the best time of year to visit?
I’d say the best time of year this year would be November 18th and 19th, when The SIL pops up at The Mansion for our first ever Dallas trunk show! It’s always lovely to see the city at Christmastime, especially for carriage rides in Highland Park followed by a few drinks at Monkey Bar up at the top of Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village – and bell ringing at NorthPark for the Salvation Army Angel tree.
Dallas is also known for its great charity events, and the Cattle Baron’s Ball is the world’s largest one-night fundraising event for the American Cancer Society—it takes place in early October. They usually get an amazing country singer to perform (from Johnny Cash to Toby Keith), and everyone dresses the part in a Western theme. This year, it’s an auction online, but that means anyone can participate. They’re going on their 46th year, and to date, they’ve raised $85 million.
What do you miss when you leave?
I miss just being in Texas in general. The people are what make the place, right?
Any Questions or Tips to add?