Heidi Dillon is the kind woman I want to be if I ever decide to grow up.
Featured on this season of Style Network’s Big Rich Texas (Sundays 9/8c), which should be called, “Clash of the Country Club Titans,” Heidi heads up The Fashionistas, a non-profit organization that champions fashion — the art and industry — in Dallas, Texas.
Tiring of the country club brouhaha with fellow cast members Leslie Birkland and Bonnie Blossman, Pamela Martin Duarte sought, and was awarded, a seat on The Fashionistas’ board of directors. And of course, now social climber Leslie wants to join too.
All that haymaking nonsense that goes on at the country club, Heidi is having none of it in her organization. If your mama didn’t teach how to behave, Heidi will be happy to school you.
Ms. Heidi knows that real women don’t throw fists because throwing shade is much more effective.
Confident and comfortable in her own skin, she lets her work speak for itself and what impressive work it is. In addition to serving as CEO and head of the Board of Directors of The Fashionistas, she is also an executive producer at and partner in Morning Dew Pictures, a television production company.
The Ride caught up with the grand fashionista of The Fashionistas who talked about Big Rich Texas, The Fashionistas, and the one thing she never leaves home without.
The Ride: Hello Heidi! Or should I call you “Ms. Dillon”? By the way, I love me some BRT (Big Rich Texas). At times, it leaves me speechless. At other times, I find myself screaming, “Oh no she didn’t,” at the TV as if it, or they, could hear me. What has the Big Rich Texas experience been like for you? Have you had any of your own, “Oh no she didn’t” moments?
Heidi: You can call me Heidi, but I kind of like it when people call me Ms. Dillon. It makes me think that your mother raised you well.
Filming BRT was incredibly fun. The scenes that I was in were all about being with my marvelous friends who are in The Fashionistas. We shot scenes at Fashionistas’ events and local hot spots. Because the producers have to tell a specific story, viewers do not get to see much of what actually transpired.
So far, the only “Oh no she didn’t” moment happened in episode 6 when Bonnie crashed Pam’s book event wearing a Bebe sweat suit(!), hurled a cheese platter and stormed out saying, “This party sucks!” I was at once shocked and bemused. But, hey, I guess that’s what it takes to be a “reality star”.
The Ride: How did you become involved with the wonderful madness that is Big Rich Texas?
Heidi: The original iteration of the show was called Dallas Divas and Daughters. The producers came across The Fashionistas website and contacted me. I worked with them on casting — drawing talent from the organization and our student group The Fashionistas Two.
Divas only did one season and last fall was rebooted as Big Rich Texas. I was not involved in season one of BRT, but as season two was about to get underway, Pam called me and asked if I would be interested in coming on the show. Pam wanted to get away from the country club set and get back into the swing of the Dallas social scene, so she thought that joining The Fashionistas board of directors would be a good way to do just that. I told her that after speaking with the show’s producers, I would think about it and talk it over with my family, my business partners at Morning Dew Pictures and my manager.
I had several conversations with the producers of BRT, who gave me the usual spiel (as a producer myself, I am very familiar with what to say to talent to get them on board), and then discussed it with the important people in my life. My husband felt that I would be remiss and regret it if I didn’t at least give it a try and my partners and manager felt that having experience in front of the camera would give me valuable insight as a producer on the other side of the camera.
The Ride: The Fashionistas seem like a very cool organization, I can see why LeeAnne Locken and Pam wanted to be a part of it. How is The Fashionistas different from an organization like the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), or is it not so very different?
Heidi: Here’s our Mission Statement: To be an international champion of the fashion arts through exhibitions, scholarships and educational programs, positioning Dallas as a portal to the global fashion community.
Here is what The Fashionistas do: We are a non-profit organization that has launched the careers of emerging Dallas fashion designers — to date Nha Khanh, Shirin Askari, Prashi & Elizabeth Anyaa. We also provide scholarships to local fashion design students and have a lecture series entitled Fashion talk that has featured local and international luminaries including Hamish Bowles of Vogue, Dr. Valerie Steele from the Museum at F.I.T., and Vince Camuto, to name a few. We have also helped sponsor major fashion exhibitions including Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection at the Meadows Museum of Art and Yeohlee: Design for Now at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Michael Kors serves on our Advisory Board. The Fashionistas is open to everyone who shares our fervor for fashion.
The Ride: Most people (or maybe it’s just me) don’t normally associate Texas with fashion outside of 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots. Forgive me, but I had no idea that Dallas even had an art institute. How challenging has it been educating the underinformed and misinformed like myself? And were you met with any resistance from fellow Texans when starting the organization?
Heidi: You are right about the perception of Texas, but I have never seen anyone in Dallas wearing a 10-gallon hat, and, everyone I know wears Louboutins! A stereotype that has been so deeply ingrained in people’s minds by the media and television shows like Dallas will never be undone.
I have met with resistance in certain circles from the moment I founded The Fashionistas. Dallas is a small town in many ways and is, at times, resistant to change and new ideas. In spite of a few naysayers, we have prevailed for seven years and have many more supporters than detractors. We are incredibly proud of the work that we have done for Dallas’ fashion community. I want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all of the tremendous, dedicated people on The Fashionistas Board of Directors.
The Ride: I also read that you have a production company, Mountain Dew Pictures. Go ahead with your bad self. So, will there be Heidi TV coming to our flat screens soon?
Heidi: Morning Dew Pictures. The story of the journey that led me to becoming a partner/executive producer in a Los Angeles-based television production company is probably too lengthy of a tale to tell here. Suffice it to say that my partners, Sheri Maroufkhani and Michael McNamara, are extremely talented, respected and seasoned TV veterans. We first met three years ago when their company was named MCFilmworks. After the birth of their baby girl Jahel (which means Morning Dew in Farsi) Sheri and Michael decided to rename the company Morning Dew Pictures.
Our company produced season one of The Real Housewives of Miami, Baldwin Hills, Harlem Heights, and many other documentaries, music videos, television shows too numerous to list. We are currently in development on over a dozen show for various cable networks. Feel free to visit Sheri and Michael’s IMBb profiles: Michael McNamara and Sheri Maroufkani.
The Ride: Back to BRT: I love how you are so very calm and collected amid the mayhem. What’s your secret to keeping above the fray? Every once in a while, I’m tempted to go *there* (as in “go off”). Please school me on how to keep my cool.
Heidi: To be honest with you, I don’t really care about the silliness that goes on in the show. When I decided to come on as a cast member, I promised myself that I would not be dragged into the quagmire that surrounds Pam’s country club acquaintances. Those girls are a little too high strung for my taste and I completely understand why Pam wanted to separate herself from that mess. Working with Pam, our dear friend LeeAnne Locken, my personal assistant Linnea Thulin and my girl Connie Dieb was a pleasure.
The Ride: What is your impression of Lying Leslie…I mean Leslie Birkland? You look like you have a great nose for B.S. and can sniff it out from a mile away.
Heidi: While Pam and I have been friends for five years, we had never discussed her country club “friends”, so I had no idea who Leslie was. When Leslie arrived at the Kendra Scott event Pam became very agitated. Pam then proceeded to tell me the very emotionally charged history of their unpleasant relationship, which definitely raised a red flag for me. However, I always give people the benefit of the doubt and a Fashionistas’ event is not the place to incite drama. Leslie seemed sweet when I met her and I felt very uncomfortable when she and Pam got into a nasty little tiff.
In subsequent episodes Leslie’s scheme for getting involved in The Fashionistas becomes clear. I have to confess, I definitely suspected her of doing a little social climbing, but never suspected that her intentions were nefarious.
And now, A Bit of Randomness
How many olives do you like in your martini?
I only drink champagne.
Guacamole or salsa?
I’m a Norwegian from Minnesota, so it’s butter and cream for me.
Go to bed angry.
A lady always ____________
Says please and thank you.
A woman can never have too many _____________
I never leave my house without my ______________
A good attitude.
If you weren’t you, who would you be?
A taller, thinner version of me.
Barbra Streisand or Celine Dion?
Your favorite designer?
The Ride: Back again to BRT: What can we expect to see from you this season?
Heidi: Me being me.
The Ride: Finally, I’d like for you to leave us with some words of wisdom.
Heidi: Reinvent yourself. I do it about every seven years. Never listen to popular opinion. Be a contrarian.
Thank you Heidi. You’re the best!